Recently, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) announced that it had “substantiated” allegations of abuses of consumer rights brought before the council against MultiChoice Nigeria, the owner of the Digital Satellite Broadcast Television (DStv).
The federal government had in August last year begun investigating the operations of the DStv based on complaints of alleged consumer rights violations.
The Director General of the CPC, Mrs Dupe Atoki, had during the sitting of the investigative panel disclosed the alleged infringements as poor quality of service, incessant disruption of service without compensation while subscription ran, wrongful abrupt disconnection of service during subsisting subscriptions, monthly subscriptions lasting less than 30 days to poor redress mechanism.
A major concern of Nigerians was the monthly subscription imposed by the DSTv as against the “pay-as-you-watch” model obtainable in South Africa and most countries across the world. With unstable power supply and long hours away from home due to work schedules, some Nigerians believe the monthly subscription is a rip-off.
After several months of sitting, the council revealed that the case Nigerians have against MultiChoice Nigeria held water as it substantiated allegations of violation of consumers’ rights.
Consequently, the CPC ordered the company to pay compensation across board to its subscribers for lost viewing time within 90 days.
However, the order has raised another controversy as the council failed to state the nature of the compensation and if the compensation is in a monetary form, the council failed to state the amount to be paid to subscribers. In addition, the order failed to take into account who should estimate the lost viewing time and how it should be calculated.
The council also directed the DSTv to start suspension of service when consumers are away, allow free-to-air channels even when subscription expires, introduce local toll free lines and reasonable equitable spread of popular sports channels.
By this order, the council failed to advance the need of Nigerians, which has been the abolition of monthly subscription in favour of “pay-as-you-watch” model.