FCCPC looks away as MultiChoice hikes DStv, GOtv subscription prices

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), on Thursday, did not oppose the recent price hike on tariffs and cost of products and services by MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, the owners of DStv and GOtv.

FCCPC said this through its lawyer, Nikiomari Abeke, before the three-member panel of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) sitting in Abuja.

Thomas Okosun chairs the three-member tribunal.

The CCPT had, on April 29, restrained MultiChoice from increasing its tariffs on the Dstv and Gotv packages scheduled to take effect from May 1, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by Festus Onifade.

The tribunal, presided over by Saratu Shafii, gave the interim order following an ex-parte motion moved by Ejiro Awaritoma, counsel for the applicant, Mr Onifade.

CCPT, thereafter, directed all parties in the suit to appear before it on May 7 at 10:00 a.m. for the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

Mr Onifade, in the suit, marked CCPT/OP/2/2024 and filed April 29, had dragged MultiChoice and FCCPC before the tribunal.

The claimant, also a legal practitioner, sought two orders, including an interim injunction restraining the Pay-TV operator from proceeding with its impending price increase until the motion on notice is determined.

But MultiChoice, through its lawyer, Moyosore Onigbanjo, filed a preliminary objection praying the court to decline jurisdiction in the suit.

Mr Onigbanjo argued that such a price dispute case had been decided before in favour of his client.

However, Mr Onifade, in his response, urged the tribunal to discountenance the company’s objection and direct it to pay N10 billion or any amount the panel might deem fit in the circumstances for deliberately disobeying and failing to comply with the interim order.

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When the case was called on Thursday, Mr Onigbanjo tendered and adopted the previous judgment of the tribunal in suit no CCPT/OP/1/2022, as exhibited alongside his application.

The senior lawyer argued that when a court had already determined an issue between the same parties on the same subject matter before, that matter cannot be re-litigated again by any tribunal or court.

“Therefore, this tribunal cannot sit on appeal on its decision. This tribunal is bound by its own decision in Exhibit A; that it is not the forum where the claimant can come to seek to regulate the prices and services offered by MultiChoice,” he said, urging the tribunal to strike out the suit.

Mr Onifade argued that the issue he brought did not border on price regulation or increase.

He said he placed the question before the court as to whether the company gave adequate notice regarding the May 1 subscription price increase.

“It is our submission that the eight-day notice issued by Multichoice Nigeria Ltd is insufficient in law. A monthly subscriber should be given at least a month,” he said, asking the tribunal to dismiss the preliminary objection as a waste of the court’s time.

FCCPC’s counsel Abeke told the CCPT that the agency was not opposing MultiChoice’s preliminary objection.

According to the lawyer, to that extent, no process or counter was filed to the motion of the first defendant (MultiChoice).

After taking the parties’ arguments, the tribunal adjourned the suit until June 7 for a ruling.

(NAN)


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