Nigeria Consumer-Protection Tribunal Stops Multichoice on New Prices

Nigeria Consumer-Protection Tribunal Stops Multichoice on New Prices

By Bashir Olanrewaju

A Nigerian consumer-protection tribunal ordered digital-satellite television provider Multichoice Nigeria Ltd to freeze plans to increase subscriber tariffs from April 1 following a complaint filed by a group representing consumers.

Festus Onifade of the Coalition of Nigerian Consumers mounted a legal challenge before the three-member tribunal sitting in the capital, Abuja. Presiding Judge Thomas Okosun ordered the pay-television provider to suspend the tariff increases pending the determination of a motion already before the court.  April 11 was set for continuation of the hearing.

The new prices announced by Multichoice represent a jump of about 30 percent to what consumers paid in 2018, a situation it blames on “the rising cost of inflation and business operations.” Nigerian consumers have faced a double assault on their pockets from inflation and devaluation as the economy faces a difficult recovery with the effect of the coronavirus pandemic now compounded by the impact of the war in Ukraine.

South African company, Multichoice, dominates the digital-satellite broadcasting segment in Nigeria with services targeting high-, middle- and low-income segments of the population, serving both local and international content ranging from movies, to sports to reality shows, talk shows and more. The recent challenges and grumbles about price increases point to growing consumer fatigue and resistance amid deepening economic woes.