Multichoice Challenges Tribunal’s Ruling Over Accused Unfair Pricing Practices

Tribunal Fines Multichoice N150 Million, Orders Free DStv, GOtv Sub for Nigerians
Tribunal Fines Multichoice N150 Million, Orders Free DStv, GOtv Sub for Nigerians

Multichoice Nigeria, facing a recent judgment by the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal that levied a N150 millionMultichoice Nigeria, facing a recent judgment by the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal that levied a N150 million fine against them, is pushing back fine against them, is pushing back against what it describes as a violation of their right to a fair hearing. The tribunal’s decision also included an order for the pay-TV giant to offer a one-month free subscription to its DSTV and GOTV services, a response to a suit accusing the company of unfair pricing practices.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Moyosore.J. Onibanjo, representing Multichoice, expressed the company’s intent to appeal the ruling promptly, challenging the tribunal’s stance on their jurisdiction among other aspects of the case.

The controversy stems from a restraining order issued by the tribunal against Multichoice, aimed at halting subscription rate increases until a pending motion on notice, filed by Barrister Festus Onifade, could be resolved. Onifade’s lawsuit against Multichoice and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) accused the service provider of instituting subscription fee hikes without adequate notice to consumers.

Despite Multichoice’s objections, which were premised on the argument that similar cases had previously been resolved in their favor, Onifade contended that the core issue was the adequacy of notice provided for the May 1, 2024, subscription increase, asserting that an 8-day notice fell short of legal requirements.

READ MORE: Tribunal Fines Multichoice N150 Million, Orders Free DStv, GOtv Sub for Nigerians

Justice Thomas Okosu, leading the three-member tribunal panel, cited Section 39(2) of the FCCPC Act to affirm the tribunal’s wide jurisdiction over commercial activities within Nigeria aimed at profit. He refuted claims that consumer rights issues necessitate involving the President of Nigeria or the Price Control Board, highlighting Onifade’s attempts to engage the FCCPC before legal action.

Declaring the tribunal’s authority to adjudicate on the matter and finding Multichoice’s 8-day notice insufficient and in violation of interim orders, Justice Okosu dismissed Multichoice’s preliminary objections. Consequently, the tribunal mandated a N150 million administrative penalty against Multichoice and ordered the provision of a month’s free subscription to its Nigerian subscribers, marking a significant ruling in consumer protection efforts within the country.

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