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Multichoice Nigeria lists eight grounds of appeal against Tribunal’s ‘free DSTV, GOTV subscription order’ 

Story Highlights  

  • Multichoice insists the Tribunal erred by its free subscription order and N150 million fine. 
  • Pay TV maintains that the penalties were unjustified and should be set aside. 
  • The tribunal had ruled that Multichoice disobeyed interim orders on subscription rate hikes. 

Multichoice Nigeria has listed eight reasons why the ruling of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal which imposed a N150 million fine and “free monthly subscription order” on it, should be set aside by the Court of Appeal, Abuja. 

This is contained in MultiChoice’s notice of appeal which wants the Court of Appeal to hold that the Tribunal “erred in law.” 

Nairametrics first broke the news that a three-man panel of the tribunal led by Thomas Okosu had while ruling on Multichoice’s preliminary objection, fined the Pay TV 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.  

What transpired at the tribunal    

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 iswhether Multichoice Nigeria gave adequate notice in respect of the May 12024, 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.  

Multichoice grounds for appeal  

In the pay TV’s eight grounds(reasons) of notice of appeal seen by Nairametrics on Tuesday, it argued that the members of the Tribunal erred in law of several areas of law. 

Here are the reasons listed by Multichoice: 

Fair Hearing 

Multichoice argues that the Tribunal imposed a fine on it without allowing its legal team to explain itself regarding the price hike. 

Entertaining the Lawyer’s Suit 

Multichoice contended that the Tribunal should not have presided over a complaint that has not be decided by the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Council. 

A similar Case has been decided before 

Multichoice insisted that the issue of its price hike had been determined by the Tribunal before thereby barring its panel from presiding over the same issues again, in alleged violation of legal procedures. 

The tribunal imposed penalties not sought by the lawyer  

Multichoice insisted that the lawyer did not ask for a N150 million penalty and a one-month free subscription fine against it. It was of the view that the Tribunal acted in such a manner without even hearing from all of its subscribers. 

The tribunal imposed a huge fine based on personal claims 

The Pay TV stressed that the Tribunal erroneously imposed a huge fine on it while leveraging on a lawyer’s personal issues with his subscription package. 

The tribunal imposed a fine in a hurry  

Multichoice alleged that the Tribunal did not hear all the pending applications for and against its price hike, before imposing such fines on it. 

The tribunal cannot regulate prices 

Multichoice insisted that a tribunal cannot preside over issues of price increase. 

Multichoice did not disobey the Tribunal  

Multichoice further told the Appeal Court that a party cannot be said to have disobeyed an order of court when it has filed an application challenging the powers of the court to preside over a matter. 

“An order setting aside the ruling and Orders of the Hon. Tribunal delivered on the 7th June 2024,” Multichoice prayed. 

More insights 

  • 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%.   

 


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