CPC to enforce sanctions on MultiChoice over non-compliance of final order – Chief Executive

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The Chief Executive, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr. Babatunde Irukera, has said the commission might enforce sanctions on MultiChoice over non-compliance to final order.

The CPC in a suit, “FINAL ORDER AND JUDICIAL RESOLUTION OF INVESTIGATION OF MULTICHOICE; IN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA V. MULTICHOICE NIGERIA LIMITED SUIT NO. FHC/ABJ/CS/894/1,:” stated that MultiChoice is under obligation to comply with the Commission’s Final Order of January 25, 2019 and the directives therein.

Irukera noted that the new order revealed that MultiChoice shall, subject to prevailing regulatory and telecommunications industry practices and constraints commence toll free technical and customer service helplines, including inter-network; MultiChoice shall operate fully resourced call centers 24 hours, and 7 days a week, including public holidays.

According to him, “MultiChoice shall develop and publish a clear complaints resolution process describing the process for receiving, addressing and resolving complaints. This shall include an appeal and escalation process as well as timelines and MultiChoice shall clarify and expressly state in its compensation policy that subscribers will be compensated for inconveniences experienced in addition to the compensation for disruption of services resulting from failed, faulty, poor, or unprofessional installation by its agents.

“MultiChoice shall create multiple and additional social media platforms where subscribers can easily upload proof of payment when service is not restored immediately after payment; MultiChoice shall provide subscribers the option of periodically suspending subscription no less than three times annually for up to 14 days in each instance; MultiChoice shall ensure that all subscribers have free and automatic access to the prevailing selected local free-to-air channels;

“MultiChoice shall carry out periodic customer sensitisation about changes made pursuant to the Commission’s Orders during the monitoring period and in a manner that adequately satisfies a reasonable and measurable degree of subscriber awareness;   MultiChoice shall be under the Commission’s monitoring for a period of 12 months of this Order;  MultiChoice shall provide prior notice of proposed changes or modifications of material terms and conditions of service that are subject of this Order and MultiChoice understands the need to introduce more flexible and value adding pricing options such as price locks or similar equivalent benefits subscribers in other jurisdictions enjoy.”

On January 25, 2019, the Commission entered a Final Order against MultiChoice.  The directives in the Final Order were no longer a matter of consent or mutual agreement with MultiChoice as they are directives, the compliance to which the Commission believes it is capable of legally enforcing.

In addition, MultiChoice’s legal strategy was to mischaracterize the Commission’s case as seeking to exercising powers that were not in the then Consumer Protection Council Act (now repealed), and attempting to engage in price control, which is inconsistent with Nigeria’s trade policy and free market philosophy. MultiChoice sought to argue that, in the absence of a clearer legislative and regulatory framework for competition and product/services pricing, the Commission (as it then was constituted), and the courts lacked the power and jurisdiction to in anyway interfere with its conduct within any context whatsoever.

However, on January 30, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Act 2018 into law.  This law now indeed establishes both the statutory and regulatory framework for a more robust regulation of anti-competitive conduct and greater scrutiny of conduct in the market place that could distort the market,

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