Nigeria’s Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has ordered MultiChoice’s Nigerian DStv arm to refund and compensate its pay-TV subscribers when they are away and also to free-up reception of free-to-view channels once a subscription period has ended.
DStv has in the past declined to allow ‘lapsed’ subscribers to view freely available channels, including local broadcasters, once a subscription was ended.
This, suggested the CPC, is in breach of agreements in place between MultiChoice and local TV stations. The CPC further ordered compensation be made to consumers for lost viewing time and ordered the introduction of local toll free lines.
Local reports say that MultiChoice/DStv must supply written assurances in line with Section 10 of the council’s enabling law that it will not engage in any conduct which is detrimental to the interest of consumers. The CPC, in what is being described locally as “an unprecedented regulatory onslaught”, further directed DStv to subject its processes to the Council’s inspection for 18 months from the date of the orders to ensure compliance with the directives contained in the orders.
MultiChoice has gained some beneficial guidance from the CPC which says that a consumer request for temporary suspension of service can only be for a period of 7-14 days, and cannot be made more than twice in any one year. Consumers must also give a 72-hour notice period to MultiChoice.