Suit challenging DSTV, GOtv subscription hike lacks merit – Tribunal

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A Competition and Consumer Protection (CCP) tribunal in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed against satellite television service provider, Multichoice Nigeria Limited over the hike in subscriptions for its products.

The three-member tribunal led by Thomas Okosun dismissed the suit filed by a legal practitioner, Festus Onifade for lacking in merit.

Onifade had dragged Multichoice before the tribunal on behalf of himself and other Nigerian customers over the increase in subscriptions for DSTV and GOtv, the company’s flagship products.

Joined in the suit as second defendant was the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).

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The legal practitioner prayed the tribunal to stop the first defendant (Multichoice) from implementing an April 1 planned subscription hike for DSTV and GOtv pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice dated and filed on March 29.

He told the tribunal that he petitioned the FCCPC in May and June 2020 when Multichoice planned a similar hike that year but the commission failed to act on the petition.

This, he said, made him approach the tribunal.

In its ruling, the tribunal held that the appellant failed to prove that by raising subscriptions for its products, the first defendant abused its dominant position in the satellite pay-TV market.

The tribunal further held that only the president of Nigeria has the power to regulate or fix the prices of goods and services.

The tribunal noted that the president could determine the prices of goods and services under stipulated circumstances “which do not apply in this instance”.

The tribunal also held that the appellant failed to prove that consumers suffered “psychological trauma, hardship or violation of their human rights” as a result of the subscription hike.

According to the tribunal, the first defendant (Multichoice) could not be punished for the second defendant (FCCPC)’s failure to perform its duty of inviting the company to defend or respond to the appellant’s petition.

However, the tribunal ordered the FCCPC to accelerate investigation into the appellant’s petition and also confirm if Multichoice operates a pay-as-you-go system in South Africa as claimed by the appellant and submit its findings within six months.

 

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