The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has ordered MultiChoice Nigeria (MCN), to introduce an additional feature that allows subscribers to maintain the same subscription fee for a minimum period of one year.
The additional features will also allow subscribers to have better value for money proposition for annual prepayment of subscription with the ability to suspend subscription at least once every quarter of the year.
This disclosure is contained in a final order and notice of the FCCPC and signed by its Director, Legal Service, Mr Tam Tamumokonbia, on Saturday, March 19, 2022, and can be seen on its official Twitter account.
Tamumokonbia said that the Commission embarked on an investigation following complaints from subscribers alleging abuse of dominant position by MCN, owners of DSTV and GOTV, after which it said that it requested for relevant information relating to market share, product pricing, distribution network, sourcing and packaging for subscribers in Nigeria.
FCCPC said it had prepared and delivered a detailed Investigative report to MCN, showing its findings with respect to the investigation.
The commission also asked Multichoice to carry out clear communication to each subscriber regarding all channels available within their selected bouquet option as well as provide toll-free customer service lines which are operational 24 hours daily through which consumers may receive support with respect to the services offered when necessary.
What the FCCPC is saying in its final order
The notice from FCCPC partly reads, ”For the purpose of ensuring that any material changes in key terms with respect to value propositions including, but not limited to cost or price, on account of its dominance, and to prevent consumers from being otherwise exploited, including by the conduct of other players in the market, MultiChoice shall introduce additional features prior to any proposed or contemplated changes in terms and conditions as identified in this Order to the extent that such change in price constitutes an increase in what consumers pay, regardless of any value addition. Such features should at a minimum include:
- ”A price lock option that allows subscribers to maintain the same subscription fee for a minimum period of one year subject to a contractual agreement that clearly specifies the applicable terms and conditions. MultiChoice Nigeria shall submit to the Commission a draft of this agreement within seven (7) days of receipt of this Order.
- ”A better value for money proposition for annual prepayment of subscription, including the ability to suspend subscription at least once every quarter of the year.
- ”Clear communication to each subscriber regarding all channels available within their selected bouquet option. d. Any other value proposition MultiChoice considers appropriate and applicable, subject to adequate engagement with the Commission.
- ”Provide completely toll-free customer service lines which are operational 24 hours daily, and through which consumers may receive support with respect to their use of the services offered by MultiChoice Nigeria. These lines must be toll-free across networks, not only within the same networks as is presently the case. MultiChoice Nigeria must within the time stipulated in the Commission’s Order of February 4, 2022, provide the Commission with a work plan and timeline for the purpose of articulating, and addressing where possible and applicable, any constraints with respect to complying with, and operationalizing this specific Order.
- ”Advertise the existing toll-free customer service lines more frequently and more widely on channels available and under the control of MultiChoice on the DStv and GOtv platforms. Such advertisement must run on each channel at least daily.
- ”Increase the number of times all subscribers may suspend their subscription up to at least four (4) times annually.
- ”Submit to the Commission a compliance report demonstrating full compliance with the above orders within the time stipulated in the Commission’s Order of February 4, 2022.”
The commission further warned that a violation of its Order attracts a fine/penalty of N5 million under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (Administrative Penalties) Regulations, 2020.
What you should know
- The pay-television giant, Multichoice, had been engaged in a running battle with some federal government agencies and some top government officials in recent times, especially over alleged exploitation of subscribers.
- Recall that in June 2020, the House of Representatives commenced an investigation of Multichoice’s operations in Nigeria over their high tariffs and monopolised bouquets and alleged cheating of its Nigerian subscribers by restricting them to prepaid plans.
- Also, in July 2021, the FIRS had appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover N1.8 trillion from accounts of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited (MCN) And MultiChoice Africa (MCA) due to the group’s continued refusal to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit.