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BREAKING: Tribunal Fines Multichoice N150m, Orders 30-day Free DStv, GOtv Subscriptions

MultiChoice

Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal in a landmark ruling on Friday fined Multichoice Nigeria, the owners of DSTV and GoTv services, the sum of N150 million for disobeying its orders, which restrained the pay-TV company from increasing its monthly subscription pending the determination of the suit brought before it.

The tribunal also ordered the pay-TV company to provide its Nigerian customers with a one-month free subscription to its DStv and GOtv packages.

Recall that the tribunal had previously ordered Multichoice not to increase its subscription fees without proper notice, following a lawsuit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Festus Onifade, who said the 8-day notice given for the price increase was inadequate.

Onifade then proceeded to file contempt charges against Multichoice after it disobeyed court orders and proceeded with its price hike as announced via email to its customers.

The contempt charges which were filed on May 7 were instituted against the Manager of the Abuja branch of Multi-Choice Nigeria Ltd, Mr Mohammed Sani.

The contempt was hinged on the company’s disobedience to the court order and Onifade, sought an order of the tribunal, directing MultiChoice to pay the sum of N1 billion “or any amount the tribunal deemed fit appropriate in this circumstance for the company’s deliberate actions in disobeying, contravening, and failing to comply with the interim order” granted on April 29.

In a Notice of Consequence of Disobedience to Order of Court, Form 48, marked: CCPT/OP/02/2024 dated and filed on May 7, the notice, warned Sani against disregarding the tribunal order.

“Take notice that unless you obey the under-listed order of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, Abuja, given on the 29th day of April 2024, thus: “An order restraining the 1st defendant/respondent either by itself, agents, representatives, officers or privies, howsoever described from carrying out the impending increase in tariffs and cost of its products and services intended to take effect from 1st May 2024, until the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed before this tribunal”.

Multichoice, on its part, argued that previous rulings had settled price regulation issues.

Onifade insisted the length of notice was inadequate and more pressing than the price hike itself, prompting the tribunal to affirm its jurisdiction and ruling against Multichoice.

The court fixed July 3 for a hearing of the substantive suit of the plaintiff.

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