Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has issued a final order on tariff review to MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DStv and Gotv.
The latest order primarily focused on the company’s increased subscription rates to its cable television services.
Mr Babatunde Irukera, director-general of the Commission, in a statement in Abuja, noted that on June 17, 2018, the Consumer Protection Council, (Now Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission; FCCPC) filed an action against MultiChoice before the federal high court in Abuja.
It disclosed that essentially, the case was necessitated because MultiChoice acted in bad faith in preempting the FCCPC after a broad investigation, and a proposed mutually agreed Consent Order.
The statement said the Order addressed broad consumer protection and service responsiveness/quality issues that were lacking and had become the subject of incessant complaints by consumers.
“ A key mutual understanding in the jointly agreed Consent Order was that no material terms of the subscription agreement between MultiChoice and its subscribers would change during an agreed period of supervision by FCCPC, to ensure that the crucial issues in repeated complaints, and that were covered by the Consent Order were sufficiently addressed under the existing terms and rubric of expectations by consumers,” it pointed out.
However, it was noted that instead of abiding by that understanding and executing the Consent Order at the proposed time agreed, MultiChoice rather increased subscription rates in preemption to executing the Consent Order.
The statement said the FCCPC considering this a demonstration of bad faith engaged MultiChoice unsuccessfully, and as such, ultimately filed an action to enjoin MultiChoice to return to honouring the mutual understandings with the Commission, and subject itself to the authority and jurisdiction of the FCCPC.
“The court granted interim injunctive relief prohibiting MultiChoice from proceeding with the conduct that the Commission alleged constituted bad faith. MultiChoice failed to obey the injunctive order of the court, preferring instead to challenge the validity and proprietary of the order and powers of the court. The court order became the subject of appeal to the Court of Appeal,” it explained.
It however observed that considering that consumers were not receiving the benefits of the proposed modification of MultiChoice’s approach to consumer protection while the case remained pending, the Commission after broad legal consultation and interpretation of the law decided to proceed with entering an order against MultiChoice anyway.
“Although, the possibility of resistance and argument by MultiChoice that the entire subject matter was subjudice, and the Commission unable to proceed or enforce any such order existed, the Commission sufficiently believed there was adequate legal authority to still modify MultiChoice’s conduct while the case remained pending in court,” it stated, noting that on January 25, 2019, the Commission entered a Final Order against MultiChoice.
The statement said the directives in the Final Order were no longer a matter of consent or mutual agreement with MultiChoice, stressing that they were directives, the compliance to which the Commission believes it was capable of legally enforcing.
Specifically, the Commission ordered that:
MultiChoice shall, subject to prevailing regulatory and telecommunications industry practices and constraints, commence toll free technical and customer service helplines, including inter-network.
The company shall also operate fully resourced call centers 24 hours, and 7 days a week, including public holidays and shall develop and publish a clear complaints resolution process describing the process for receiving, addressing and resolving complaints.
In addition also, the company is to include an appeal and escalation process as well as timelines and is expected to clarify and expressly state in its compensation policy that subscribers would be compensated for the inconveniences experienced in addition to the compensation for disruption of services resulting from failed, faulty, poor, or unprofessional installation by its agents.
The Final Order also demands that MultiChoice shall create multiple and additional social media platforms where subscribers can easily upload proof of payment when service is not restored immediately after payment, this is also in addition to providing subscribers the option of periodically suspending subscription no less than three times annually for up to 14 days in each instance.
MultiChoice was also asked to ensure that all subscribers have free and automatic access to the prevailing selected local free-to-air channels, in addition to also The carrying out periodic customer sensitisation about changes made pursuant to the Commission’s Orders during the monitoring period and in a manner that adequately satisfies a reasonable and measurable degree of subscriber awareness;
The statement said MultiChoice shall be under the Commission’s monitoring for a period of 12 months of this Order and shall provide prior notice of proposed changes or modifications of material terms and conditions of service that are the subject of this Order.
NFVCB Embarks on Nationwide Confiscation of Illegal Films
The National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) has embarked on confiscation and destruction exercise of illegal films and videos across the nation as a measures to compliment the federal government Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The measure was also meant to resuscitate the national film making industry.
Speaking during the public burning of the illegal films confiscated by the board in Kano, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, Executive Director of the NFVCB, said investors in the film industry in Nigeria had suffered losses among other financial difficulties as a result of smuggling of unclassified works through unlicensed agents and distributors.
According to him, in order to combat the menace of illicit and unapproved movies and videos, 150 staff of the board were trained at various police colleges across the nation to ensure improvement on their operations.
“These actions have helped to tackle the critical and impeding issues of infringement on proprietary rights, bootlegging of movies and other illicit acts in the film industry, recently leading to massive raid and confiscation of illegal films and video works worth over N800m,” he said.
Similarly, in his remark the national President of Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), Dr Ahmad Sarari called for a law that will compel cinemas to have 70% local content in the list of films they show.
NCC, CIPPON Partner to Check Copyright Piracy in Printing Industry
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON) have renewed their commitment to fine-tuning the regulatory regime to enhance copyright protection in the book industry as part of a comprehensive anti-piracy plan.
At a consultative meeting held by John O. Asein, Director-General of NCC, and Olugbemi Malomo, President of CIPPON, in Lagos recently, both regulatory agencies underscored the need to review and intensify effective workings of the copyright system, particularly the book publishing industry to ensure appropriate copyright clearance and instil best practices that would enhance the value chain in the sector.
DG, NCC, Mr. Asein, decried the spate of piracy in the book industry and informed that the Commission would work closely with major players in the copyright value chain in a bid to maintain acceptable standard.
He commended CIPON and its leadership for “identifying the broken bridges that need to be fixed” in order to restore the pride of printing as a critical component of the book industry.
The Director-General noted further that printing has a special place in the historical evolution of the copyright system over four centuries ago and still remains a lynchpin in the publishing industry.
He assured that appropriate mechanisms should be put in place to sieve genuine printers from pirates who only masquerade as printers.
Earlier, the President of CIPPON, Mr Olugbemi Malomo, had assured that CIPPON would support the anti-piracy drive of NCC to ensure that piracy was brought to the barest minimum in the book sector.
According to the CIPPON President, “We want to learn from what is on ground and see the area where we can collaborate and be able to achieve our aim as a common goal of identifying and removing pirates because that is the key thing.” He described his visit to the Commission as a first step in exploring areas of collaboration between CIPPON and NCC.
The CIPPON President stated, “The book production process has a huge supply chain. There have been instances when books are imported and when they got to Nigeria, pirated ones also came to Nigeria. So basically, we want to change that narrative. We believe that books should be categorised. That is our point of view as regulators.”
Mr. Malomo remarked, “You cannot seriously talk about Nigerian growth, Nigerian civilization and the enlightenment that Nigerians enjoy without reckoning with the role of printers because printers have always been a major block in the transmission of information in the growth of education, in the provision of enlightenment.
“So to a large extent, printers are still very relevant; whether in the offset era, in the improved technology era or in the digital era, we still have printers taking on different assignments. So, they are very key and to that extent, we are happy to start a conversation.”
Speaking further, the DG NCC, Mr. Asein stated, “We will move to the next level where we will engage further with your executive and Advisory Council. Then, we would move further to the level of addressing all printers. In the course of that, we would develop the right mechanisms and the right protocol to ensure that we are able to separate the wheat from the chaff.”
He charged the CIPPON President to keep a data of those the Institute regulates and informed that the Commission would commence full enforcement of the requirements of the Copyright Act to ensure that every producer of works keeps a register of works produced as mandated under section 14 of the Act.
Mr. Asein stated, “We already have an obligation under the Copyright Act to ensure that people who are producing copyright works keep registers. So we are sending out a clear message that henceforth, the Nigerian Copyright Commission will enforce the provisions of the Act requiring the keeping of registers.
“For instance, every printer should have a register of works that he or she is printing. I am sure today, we will have more in default than compliance. So we will soon begin to enforce compliance and prosecute offenders.”
He expressed concern over the prevalence of imported pirated works, which he described as double jeopardy.
“That is an area right owners would want Government to look into; with the help of the Customs Service, we will monitor the ports and block the inflow of these pirated materials. If we stem piracy then more publishers will be encouraged to patronise local printers. That way, we can save jobs and Nigeria would someday become a printing hub for the region”, he added.
Mr. Asein expressed hope that something would be done to revive the paper production industry to make printing in Nigeria more competitive and reduce dependence on foreign printing.
Consequent upon the deliberations, a four-man technical committee comprising NCC and CIPPON staff members would be inaugurated to, among other things, deliberate on the framework and modalities for future cooperation between NCC and CIPPON.
MultiChoice Talent Factory to Host Masterclasses on Acting for Camera
MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), the creative shared value initiative of MultiChoice, is set to host Masterclasses on Acting for Camera in the West African sub-region.
The Masterclasses will take place in Lagos on 28 January and in Accra, Ghana, on 30 January.
The one-day Masterclasses will have as facilitator Denny. Y. Miller, international award-winning director.
Speaking on the Masterclasses, Femi Odugbemi, MTF Academy Director (West Africa) said, Miller, who won awards for directing Isibaya and Swartwater, will be at both masterclasses to teach participants drawn from industry groups in new techniques in acting for camera.
Miller, who has been in television for over 25 years, started his career in the television and film industry at the age of 19 when he worked as part of the crew in Egoli- Place of Gold.
Surrounded by notable talent in the industry and some of the best technicians, he acquired experience that would leave him passionate about directing for television.
Miller directed season one of Nigeria’s longest-running soap opera Tinsel, mentoring a cast and crew that had little or no experience in the genre.
He was also the creative director and director on two seasons of Moments with Mo, a hit Nigerian talk show, and wrote as well as directed Kenya’s first talent search reality series, The Presenter.
Odugbemi explained that the masterclasses, which will involve actors, actresses and directors will ensure industry players to understand that imagery matters more than words in performance.
“These actors and directors would channel their emotions in a more powerful way when they comprehend the dynamics of acting with camera and not acting for camera,” he stated.
He also pointed out that MultiChoice will continue to improve the skills personnel in the Nigerian film and television industry and that the MTF Masterclasses will eventually deliver a more professionalized and networked film/ television industry across Africa by expanding the community of highly skilled professionals in indigenous content creation.
Last week, Ari de Beer, an award-winning Steadicam operator, facilitated a well-attended one-day MTF Masterclass in Steadicam operations. It had in attendance seasoned camera operators, who received certificates of participation.
Participants at the Acting for Camera Masterclasses are required to have a minimum of 5 years’ experience as actors/ actresses and will be drawn from across the industry spectrum in Nigeria and Ghana.
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