DSTV subscription: MultiChoice executives to face contempt charge | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


DSTV subscription: MultiChoice executives to face contempt charge

Posted: Apr 17, 2015 at 10:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•Order NBC to implement ‘Pay-Per-View,’ plaintiffs tell court •Case adjourned till May 5

By Tunde Opeseitan / Snr Correspondent, Lagos


The Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, John Ugbe is to face committal proceeding for allegedly disobeying the order of a Federal High Court in Lagos which restrained the implementation of a new subscription regime of Digital Satellite Television, popularly known as DSTV by the company.

Apart from Ugbe, the company’s Public Relations Manager, Caroline Oghuma, is also to face the committal proceeding.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos had on April 2 restrained the company from implementing the new subscription regime, pending the determination of a suit filed by two subscribers – Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Oyeniji.

The plaintiffs in the motion on notice in support of the application for committal for contempt are seeking an order committing the two Multi Choice officials to prison for disobeying the court’s order.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an order mandating MultiChoice to render accounts of all excesses charged in tariffs (in contempt of court) with particulars of such subscribers and crediting their account against the next renewal and/or remitting such excesses back to the customers.

They are also seeking an order mandating the Managing Director and the Public Relations Manager to copy an official written undertaking to be filed at the registry of the court to obey all the orders made in the matter post final determination.

When the matter came up on Thursday, MultiChoice’s lawyer, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), informed the court that different applications to discharge the order and to challenge the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter had been filed.

Onigbanjo had further explained that the order was made a day after MultiChoice started the implementation of the new rates, and that the order was brought to the attention of his client on April 8.

The lawyer further argued that a party that had challenged the jurisdiction of the court with respect to an order was not bound to obey the court’s order.

Onigbanjo further noted that the status quo as at the time the order was made had been maintained by his client.

Responding, plaintiffs’ lawyer, Osasuyi Adebayo, faulted Onigbanjo’s claims on why the court’s order had not been complied with.

He said the application for injunction was filed before April 1, and that the court’s order had not foreclosed the suit.

“The court has made the order. Whether rightly or wrongly, the defendant is duty bound to obey it”, he said.

The matter was consequently adjourned to May 5, for the hearing of all pending applications.

The plaintiffs, who are also lawyers, had dragged MultiChoice to the court to challenge the increase in the subscription rates.

In the restraining orders, Justice Aneke ruled: “That an order of interim injunction is hereby granted to the parties to maintain the status quo restraining the first defendant (Multichoice/DSTV) from giving effect or enforcing its planned increase in cost of the different classes of viewing or programmes bouquet, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

“That an order is hereby granted certifying the plaintiffs’ claim as a class action for themselves as individual subscribers, other corporate subscribers, distributors and retailers of the first defendants’ services.

“That an order is hereby granted restraining any other person whether individual or corporate from instituting any other action as may be related to the action against the defendant to prevent multiplicity of lawsuits pursuant to the appointment of the plaintiffs in the class action but may instead opt in or out of this action.”

In the class action suit marked, FHC/L/CS/404/2015, the plaintiffs are urging the court to order the second defendant, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to also implement Pay Per View where subscribers choose the programmes they want and pay as they watch, which is being implemented in some other parts of the world.

It will be recalled that, MultiChoice, owners of DStv and GOtv, had in March, announced a 20 per cent price increase for all its satellite pay TV bouquets in Nigeria.

Thus, the subscription fee of DStv Premium, Compact plus, compact, access, Family and extra view bouquets were all set to increase, as is the price for GOtv Plus and GOtv bouquet.

Justifying its action, MultiChoice explained that the price increase was necessary for it to continue offering the best in local and international entertainment to its subscribers.