A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered Multi Choice Nigeria Limited, operator of the Digital Satellite Television, popularly known as DStv, to hold action on its planned subscription fee increment. Justice C.J. Aneke, who made the interim order last week, held that it would subsist till the determination of a lawsuit contesting the legality of DStv’s newly introduced rates and increase in tariffs payable by all its subscribers in the country.
Two legal practitioners in Lagos, Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Oyeniji, had approached the court challenging what they described as arbitrary increment in DStv subscription rates imposed on its customers. The action, they said, followed an announcement by Multi Choice in March that it was increasing DStv subscription fees by 20 per cent on all viewing plans effective from April 1, 2015.
The company had reportedly explained that the price increase was necessary for it to be able to continue to offer the best in local and international entertainment to its subscribers. But the plaintiffs, who considered the move as illegal, filed the suit marked FHC/L/CS/404/2015, joining Multi Choice Nigeria Limited and the National Broadcasting Commission as the first and second defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs, who sued for themselves and on behalf of all DStv subscribers across the country, had asked for an order, compelling NBC to enforce the pay-per-view scheme, whereby subscribers would only pay for programmes watched, as was being done in other parts of the world. They also asked for an order of the court restraining any other individual or corporate entitity from filing any other action on the subject matter to avoid multiplicity of the lawsuit.
Aneke, having granted the interim injunction as prayed by the plaintiffs, directed that the order be made public through newspapers publications. The judge adjourned the case till April 16, 2015. Aneke held:
“That an order of interim injunction is hereby granted to the parties to maintain the status quo restraining the 1st 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 1st 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.”