Rates hike: Court rules in CPC, MultiChoice suit today

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DG/CEO Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Babatunde Irukera

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja will today (Tuesday) give a ruling on the lawsuit brought before the court by the Consumer Protection Council against MultiChoice Nigeria over the latter’s alleged arbitrary increase in subscription rates payable by consumers of its digital television services.

The CPC has been making efforts to compel the defendant to reverse the hike in subscription rates announced recently.

The council, through its director general, CPC, Babatunde Irukera, is asking the court to confirm its earlier order stopping MultiChoice from increasing subscription rates or imposing any extra charges on subscribers.

MultiChoice had in July announced across-the-board increases on the monthly subscription rates for its DSTV Premium, Compact Plus, Family and Access packages.

The new rates took effect from August 1, 2018.

The consumer rights agency had prevailed on the firm to back down on the implementation of the new rates pending the outcome of the litigation.

MultiChoice had gone ahead to effect the new subscription rates’ regime.

Following the announcement, Irukera, citing multiple complaints from subscribers and an ongoing investigation into complaints of breaches and poor service delivery, filed a suit against MultiChoice.

He described the hike in subscription rates as a violation of an agreement earlier reached by both parties.

The CPC argued that it reached a deal in 2016 with MultiChoice that the firm would hold rates for 24 months.

In his August 20 ruling, Justice Dimgba stated that the interim injunction restraining MultiChoice Nigeria or its agents and representatives was to halt the continuing implementation of any increase in subscription rates or price review policy imposing increased charges and costs on the subscribers pending the determination of the CPC’s application.

The firm filed an appeal against the court order and an application for stay of execution pending the hearing of the appeal, arguing that the new rates were justified by free market principles.

But the CPC maintained that until the court declares otherwise, MultiChoice could not implement any hike in subscription rates in defiance of its agreement with the Federal Government.

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