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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Tribunal Throws Out Petition Against MultiChoice, Says Tariff Hike Is ‘Valid’

A tribunal, the Competition and Consumer Protection (CCP) sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging the price increase by MultiChoice Nigeria Limited.

MultiChoice are the owners of satellite television services, DStv and GOtv — popular subscription-based platforms in Nigeria.

Delivering judgment on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, a three-member panel of the tribunal, dismissed the suit for lacking merit.

Festus Onifade, a legal practitioner, had sued the company on behalf of himself and the coalition of Nigerian consumers.

While MultiChoice Nigeria Limited is the first defendant, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) is the second respondent.

Onifade asked the tribunal to restrain the firm from hiking subscription fees for its services and other products on April 1, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated and filed on March 29.

However, the price increase has since taken effect.

Onifade said he had lodged a petition at the FCCPC in May and June 2020 when MultiChoice planned an increase on its tariff in the same year.

He said recycled content and pay-as-you-use were also raised apart from tariff hikes.

The legal practitioner said he approached the tribunal after the FCCPC failed to take action on the petition.

However, the tribunal led by Thomas Okosun held that “the price increase is valid.”

The tribunal held that the claimant failed to establish that MultiChoice abused its dominant position in the market.

It also held that only the president has the power to regulate or fix the prices of goods and services.

“Only the president has the powers to regulate or fix prices of goods and services under stipulated circumstances which do not apply in this instance,” it held.

Furthermore, the tribunal said the claimants failed to show evidence or establish how they suffered “psychological trauma, hardship or violation of their human rights” as a result of the price hike.

“He failed to show evidence of hardship suffered by consumers,” it added.

The tribunal also ruled that the 1st defendant (MultiChoice) cannot be punished because the 2nd defendant (FCCPC) did not inform or invite them to defend the petition.

Source: TheCable

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