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

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

The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal recently imposed a N150 million fine on Multichoice Nigeria for its defiance in acknowledging the court’s authority. In addition to the fine, the Tribunal mandated that Multichoice provide a month of free service to its DStv and GOtv subscribers.

This ruling was made in response to a legal action taken by Barrister Festus Onifade, who contended that Multichoice’s 8-day notice to consumers about an impending price increase did not meet legal standards. Onifade argued for a more reasonable notice period, suggesting at least one month for monthly subscriptions.

“Rejecting Multichoice’s request is critical to not wasting the court’s time,” Onifade insisted.

This is not the first time the Tribunal has intervened to prevent Multichoice from augmenting its subscription rates without due notification to its subscribers.

Despite Multichoice’s defense, citing previous settlements regarding pricing disputes, Onifade underscored the issue of inadequate notice, prompting the Tribunal to rule unfavorably towards Multichoice.

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Having gone ahead with their subscription fee increase despite earlier interim orders from the Tribunal to halt any price adjustments pending the lawsuit’s outcome, Multichoice found itself penalized for non-adherence.

“The first defendant must comply with a N150 million fine. Additionally, Multichoice must offer a free one-month subscription to its Nigerian customer base,” the Tribunal declared.

Justice Thomas Okosu, presiding over the Tribunal, reinforced the Tribunal’s oversight on national commercial practices, clarifying that the lawsuit’s cornerstone was the inadequacy of notice given for the pricing changes, not the price increase itself.

The announcement of new rates for DStv and GOtv on April 24, 2024, which saw package prices climbing by 25% to 26%, was met with Multichoice’s resistance to the Tribunal’s judgment, proceeding with the announced price changes.

Following this verdict, the commission indicated plans to scrutinize Multichoice’s rationale for the rate adjustments, potentially involving other regulatory entities like the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in their review.

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