Price Increase: Consumers Write CPC Over Alleged Insensitivity by Multichoice

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Consumers under the umbrella body of Coalition of Nigeria Consumers has written the Director General of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission over alleged Insensitivity by Multichoice Nigeria Limited in the increase in there subscription rates.
The coalition in petition to the commission dated May 9, 2020, urged the Director-General to intervene, arguing that the increase will be the third in five years.
Multichoice Nigeria limited provides Digital Satellite Television services on (DStv and GOtv) platforms, with about 14.56 million Subscribers on across Africa, Nigeria having 40% of this numbers as at 2019 making it largest and leading satellite Tv service provider in Nigeria.
You will recall that Mutilchoice Nigeria Limited had recently announced that it will be increasing its rates for DStv and GOtv Subscribers from 1st June, 2020, citing the increase in VAT rate as the reason for this imminent price increment. It must be pointed out that the company would by this announcement be increasing it rate for the third time in the last five years. First in 2015, another in 2018 and now 2020. This is inspite of repeated outcries by Nigerians and court injunctions restraining Multichioce from increasing their rate on those previous occasions which were blatantly disobeyed.
According to the petition signed by Festus Onifade, Esq.counsel to the consumers, he said, ”Our Client and many other concerned Nigerians are particularly worried at the insensitive nature of Multichoice Nigeria Limited who despite the global economic downturn and the prevailing CORONA VIRUS crisis seem impervious to the sensitivity of its customers.
”Sir, as you have notice that national lockdown and government ‘Sit at home’ order has directly increase the patronage for the product and services of the providers DStv and GOtv without commensurate increase in contents particularly in view of the suspension of world major sporting live events and TV drama series ect; and yet Consumers are left with no other option not only to pay but with imminent increase.
”Our Client also noted with grave concerns that apart from the pattern of (CONTENT RECYCLING) of repetitive films and programs, many local Tv Channels which ought to be free are paid for by Nigeria Consumers as oppose to the practice of enjoying free local Tv Channels in other part of the world.
”Worst still is that with a monthly premium subscription rate of about N16, 000 Our Client and Nigeria Consumers are greatly surcharge. This is because with an average of 720 hours per month, an average view is about 6 hours per day. If usage is converted to hourly basis this same amount will give a consumer four months value. Hence, we advocate ‘Pay as you use.’
”Sadly, Nigeria with over 40% of its Subscribers in Africa; Nigerians and Our Client in particular continue to groan under the repressive incessant price hike because of the dominant position Multichioce Nigeria Limited occupies where it determines market prices unilaterally without recourse to it closest competitor (StarTimes) or consideration for the welfare of its Customers.
”We believe strongly that Multichoice Nigeria Limited is in gross violation of the provision of Section 72 of Federal Consumer and Competition Law 2018 which amounted to ABUSE OF POWER OF DOMINANCE.
”In view of the above, we implore the Commission to be persuaded by the provision of Section 88(3) of FCCP ACT 2018 to prevail on the Multilchoice Nigeria limited owners of DStv and GOtv satellite cable to suspend its planned price increment as it would amount to anti-competitive act, arbitrariness and against the welfare of the Consumers. And also the Commission should invoke its power under this Act to regulate the price as this would be in the overall public interest”.

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