Senate cautions MultiChoice against going ahead with tariff increase

Senate cautions MultiChoice against going ahead with tariff increase

The Nigerian Senate has cautioned the owners of DStv and GOtv, MultiChoice not to dare the federal government by increasing its tariffs.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan issued this warning on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating a seven-member Ad hoc Committee of the Senate headed by the Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi to investigate circumstances around the proposed tariff increase by MultiChoice.

The senate president further said the firm should respect Nigerian consumers, as Nigeria provides a climate for them to do business, which should not be abused.

Ahmad Lawan said, “No operator should take us for granted. We mean business. We want you to be here. Nigeria always provides the climate for you to do your businesses, but don’t abuse the laws of our country.

“Our consumers here are people who are innocent and we are prepared to protect them.

“When the legitimate interests of our people are threatened, we are supposed to ensure that we protect them.

“It has been the practice of many companies, especially foreign companies, operating in Nigeria to treat the Nigerian consumers of their products in a different way and manner that is not consistent with global best practices.”

Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Abdullahi said, “It is mind-boggling that barely two years after a price hike by Multichoice, which was followed by a big uproar by Nigerians, comes another unexpected increment without proper consultation with critical stakeholders.”

According to Abdullahi, the investigation is an opportunity to right the wrongs and bring these service providers to operate within the confines of the law as obtainable outside the shores of the country, citing that incessant hike in tariff without recourse to constituted authorities is a thing of great concern that calls for questioning.

MultiChoice is the largest pay-tv operator in Nigeria and Africa. The firm recently announced an increase in its subscription fee across all bouquets for its DStv and GOtv services.

The Senate had in an earlier resolution, directed the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the Nigerian Communications Commission to direct all pay-tv providers to introduce a pay-per-view model of subscription against the month to month prepaid model presently in place.

They also directed all pay-tv service providers in Nigeria to immediately review their bouquet prices downwards in tandem with the prevailing reality of the economic situation in the country.

A Competition and Consumer Protection (CCP) tribunal, presided over by Thomas Okosun had last month restrained Multichoice Nigeria Limited from increasing its tariffs and cost of products and services following an ex-parte motion moved by Festus Onifade,  a legal practitioner, on behalf of himself and the Coalition of Nigeria Consumers.