MultiChoice Nigeria Announces Third Price Hike in 12 Months Amid High Inflation

MultiChoice Nigeria faces backlash over price hikes, but a tribunal has temporarily halted the increases, highlighting the growing importance of consumer protection in the country's pay-TV industry.

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Quadri Adejumo
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MultiChoice Nigeria Announces Third Price Hike in 12 Months Amid High Inflation

MultiChoice Nigeria Announces Third Price Hike in 12 Months Amid High Inflation

MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, the dominant pay-TV operator in the country, has announced its third price increase on DStv and GOtv packages within the past 12 months. The company cited rising business costs due to currency depreciation and Nigeria's soaring inflation rate of 33.2% as of March 2024 as the primary reasons for the latest round of price hikes, which range from 20% to 26% across various subscription packages.

The planned price increases, originally scheduled to take effect on May 1, 2024, have been met with widespread public backlash. Many Nigerian consumers are already grappling with the financial strain caused by the country's economic challenges, and the additional burden of higher pay-TV costs has further fueled discontent.

However, in an unexpected development, the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) in Abuja has issued an interim order restraining MultiChoice from implementing the price hikes. The three-member tribunal, presided over by Saratu Shafii, gave the order following an ex parte motion filed by Festus Onifade, a legal practitioner representing consumers' interests.

The CCPT has directed all parties involved, including MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), to appear before it on May 7 for a hearing and determination of the motion on notice. Onifade's suit seeks to prevent MultiChoice from proceeding with the price increases and from taking any actions that may negatively impact the rights of consumers.

Why this matters: The intervention by the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal marks a significant shift in the power dynamic within Nigeria's pay-TV industry. It highlights the growing importance of consumer protection and the role of regulatory bodies in ensuring fair business practices. The outcome of the upcoming hearing could have far-reaching implications for how the FCCPC oversees the conduct of dominant market players like MultiChoice.

MultiChoice has also implemented similar price increases for its DStv and GOtv packages in other African markets, such as South Africa and Kenya, citing economic challenges in those countries as well. A comparative analysis of subscription prices across the three markets reveals that Kenyans are currently paying the highest rates for DStv services, while South Africans enjoy the lowest prices. Nigerians fall in between, paying more than their South African counterparts but less than Kenyan subscribers.

Yemisi Bamgbose, the executive secretary of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), criticized the FCCPC for its decision to review MultiChoice's subscription rates, arguing that the commission has remained silent on price increases by other companies. "MultiChoice is not the only company that has increased prices of its services or products. Why is the focus on MultiChoice?" Bamgbose questioned.

As the legal battle unfolds, Nigerian consumers eagerly await the outcome of the CCPT hearing on May 7. The tribunal's decision will not only determine the immediate fate of MultiChoice's proposed price hikes but also set a precedent for how consumer rights and corporate interests are balanced in Nigeria's rapidly changing pay-TV landscape. For now, subscribers can find some relief in the knowledge that their voices are being heard and their concerns are being addressed by the relevant authorities.

Key Takeaways

  • MultiChoice Nigeria raises DStv and GOtv prices by 20-26% due to rising costs.
  • Nigerian tribunal issues interim order restraining MultiChoice from implementing price hikes.
  • Tribunal hearing on May 7 to determine if price increases can proceed.
  • MultiChoice has also raised prices in South Africa and Kenya, with Kenyans paying highest.
  • Tribunal's decision will set precedent for balancing consumer rights and corporate interests.