CPC seeks suspension of MultiChoice’s hike in DStv subscription rates
Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has obtained an ex-parte injunction restraining MultiChoice Nigeria Limited from implementing its recent hike in DStv subscription rates.Subscribers to the new Digital Satellite Television (DStv) had protested against its new tariff hike, which commenced at the beginning of this month.
They had called on the Federal Government to prevail on South Africa’s Multichoice, owners of the platform, to discard the plan.The CPC through its Director-General, Babatunde Irukera got the court to also restrain MultiChoice from any conduct capable of interfering with the regulatory process of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC).
The orders were granted in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/894/2018 Federal Republic of Nigeria v. MultiChoice Nigeria Limited.According to tweet announcing the injunction yesterday, Babatunde Irukera, Abimbola Ojenike, Eme David-Ojugo, Moray Adebayo, Teniola Medupin and Florence Abebe, led the Federal Government’s team to a Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja to seek the injunction.
The CPC had argued that it has a constitutional responsibility to protect the welfare and interest of consumers in Nigeria through the instrumentality of the “the Council” established pursuant to Consumer Protection Council Act (CPCA) Cap. C25, LFN 2004.While Multichoice blamed the price hike on the current economic situation in the country, a subscriber, Tayo Adedugbe disclosed that only in May 2017, it increased its price across all packages. “And now, about 14 months after, it has announced another price hike on its DStv platform,” he said.
The firm, through its Twitter Handle, @DStvng, had explained: “The price adjustment was necessitated by the escalating costs to business.These, it said, include satellite costs, maintenance of network, channel and operational costs.It added: “The DStv cost structure has marketing costs and channel costs. We have however managed to restrict the price adjustment as much as possible.”Investigations showed that the South African PayTV firm has about 11 million subscribers in 50 African states, with Nigeria having about 4 million of them as at last year.
According to updates from online news platform, Sahara Reporters, the CPC said that in the exercise of its statutory mandate, the Council was conducting an investigation into Defendant/Respondent’s compliance with its Orders of February 16, 2016 and other emergent issues relating to whether Defendant/Respondent’s business practices and specific conducts were in violation of the law with respect to the rights of consumers. The conducts under review include: alleged unfairness, arbitrariness and excessiveness of pricing and billing systems.
“In the course of the Council’s investigation and consultative engagement with the Defendant/Respondent, the Defendant/Respondent preemptively and surreptitiously introduced a subscription regime which imposes increased charges and costs on Nigerian Consumers of digital satellite television service with effect from 1st August, 2018,” CPC said, arguing that “unless the Defendant/Respondent is restrained by the grant of injunctive orders requested in this application, the Defendant/Respondent will continue the implementation of the increased subscription rate thereby rendering ineffective and nugatory the on-going regulatory investigation which seeks to prevent continuing exploitation of Nigerian Consumers through obnoxious and exploitative billing systems and pricing regimes.”
Justice Dimgba granted: “AN ORDER of interim injunction restraining the Defendant/Respondent by itself, agents, representatives, affiliates, officers or privies, howsoever described from continuing the implementation of any increased subscription rate or price review policy imposing increased charges and costs on the consumers of Defendant/Respondent’s services pending the determination of the Plaintiff/Applicant’s Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction filed in this suit.
“AN ORDER of interim injunction restraining the Defendant/Respondent by itself, agents, representatives, affiliates, officers or privies, howsoever described from further carrying on or continuing any conduct or activity which interfere with or has the effect of circumventing the outcome of on-going investigation by the Consumer Protection Council into Defendant/Respondent’s compliance or non-compliance with Plaintiff/Applicant’s Orders of February 16, 2016 pending the determination of the Plaintiff/Applicant’s Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction filed in this suit.”The matter was instituted by the authority of the Attorney-General of the Federation under Section 10 and 16 of the Consumer Protection Council Act, Cap c25, LFN 2004.
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