TimeTestedNews ||Multichoice appeals Tribunal’s ‘free subscription order’ for subscribers  

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Prominent Pay-TV operator,  Multichoice Nigeria has filed an appeal against the ruling of the  Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal which imposed a N150 million fine and “free monthly subscription order” on it following its preliminary objection challenging its jurisdiction among other reliefs.  

Based on information from our sources familiar with the development, “a notice of appeal” has been entered against the recent ruling of the Tribunal. 

Nairametrics first broke the news that a three-man panel of the tribunal led by Thomas Okosu also ordered Multichoice to give Nigerians a one-month free subscription on DSTV and GOTV for floating its interim orders restraining DSTV, GOTV price hike.

The tribunal had restrained MultiChoice from increasing its subscription rates pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice filed by Barrister Festus Onifade.   

Onifade, who sued Multi-Choice Nigeria Ltd, and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission  (FCCPC), accused Pay TV of unjustly increasing subscription fees without one-month notice to customers and leveraged it to seek interim orders against Pay TV.  

A three-member tribunal chaired by Saratu Shafii had ruled in favour of Onifade by restraining Multichoice in the  interim, in the suit marked CCPT/OP/2/2024, restraining the pay TV from going ahead with the impending price increase scheduled to take effect from 1st May 2024 pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.  

But Multichoice’s lawyer, Moyosore .J. Onibanjo (SAN) had filed a preliminary objection urging the court to decline jurisdiction on the suit filed by Festus Onifade and strike it out because such a price dispute case had been decided before in favour of his client.  

On his part, Onifade argued that the issue he placed before the court is  whether Multichoice Nigeria gave adequate notice in respect of the May 1, 2024 price TV subscription increase, and not price regulation or increase.  

In its ruling, the three-man panel chaired by Justice Thomas Okosu held that Section 39(2) of the FCCPC Act states that the tribunal shall have jurisdiction throughout the federation and on all commercial activities aimed at making a profit.  

Besides, the tribunal held that the claimant’s instant suit is not questioning the Multichoice price hike as claimed by Onibanjo but the illegality of his client’s 8-day notice to the customers.  

The tribunal dismissed Multichoice’s preliminary objection for disobeying its interim orders and subsequently imposed a 150 million administrative penalty on Multichoice as well as a one-month subscription order against Pay-TV. 

Speaking to Nairametrics  immediately after the court’s ruling, the legal team of Multichoice had vowed to appeal the ruling, saying “The matter was adjourned to 7th June 2024 for ruling on our application challenging jurisdiction however surprisingly rather than just ruling on its jurisdiction the Tribunal went ahead to pronounce us guilty of disobedience of its orders and issued severe sanctions against us all without hearing us on the matter in breach of our constitutionally guaranteed rights to a fair hearing.” 

Today, Nairametrics was reliably informed by sources that an appeal has been filed by Multichoice. 

Multichoice announced new price adjustments on DStv and GOtv packages on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.  

The email message to subscribers read, “On Wednesday, 1 May 2024 we will adjust our prices across all our packages on OStv and GOtv. We understand the impact this change may have on you – our valued customer, but the rise in the cost of business operations, has led us to make this difficult decision. It remains our mission to provide the best entertainment and viewing experience to you and we are committed to continue to deliver high-quality content and unparalleled service.”  

Nairametrics previously reported that the development had resulted in a 25% to 26% increase across Multichoice packages.  

But amid the subsisting ruling, the popular Pay TV provider proceeded with the upward adjustment of its prices for DStv and GOtv subscribers.  

On the part of the commission, it said it  would review the reasons identified by Multichoice, noting that the agency could involve regulatory bodies such as the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).  

Amid the development, the African Pay-TV operator, Multichoice Group, had blamed Nigeria’s harsh economic condition as active DStv subscribers in the country declined by 18%.  

A source associated with the TV company could not immediately confirm if Multichoice has re-adjusted its subscription rates, as widely reported by some media houses.