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Court dismisses suit challenging DSTV price hike

timthumbA federal high court in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Thursday struck out a suit challenging the recent 20 per cent increase in subscription rates of Digital Satellite Television (DStv).

The plaintiffs, who are also DSTV subscribers, Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Oyeniji, filed the class action on behalf of themselves and all other DStv subscribers across the country. They had sought an order of the court restraining MultiChoice, the owners of DSTV, from implementing the new rates, which began on April 1, 2015.

However, in his ruling, Justice Chukwujeku Aneke upheld the preliminary objection filed by MultiChoice branding the suit an abuse of court process.

The judge rejected an argument by the plaintiffs that MultiChoice deserved not to be given right of audience, having failed to abide by an earlier ex parte order of the court restraining the company from implementing the rates. Justice Aneke said the court was bound to entertain arguments from all parties before it, irrespective of the alleged violation of the court order.

The court further ruled that the suit disclosed no reasonable cause of action, as the plaintiffs were not under any obligation to continue to subscribe to the services of MultiChoice in the face of the increment. Justice Aneke also upheld MultiChoice’s argument that the suit failed to comply with mandatory provisions of Sections 97 and 98 of the Sherrifs and Civil Processes Act, which stipulate that a writ to be served outside jurisdiction must be concurrently issued.

Many Nigerians who sees South African owned MultiChoice as exploitative, would be displeased with today’s ruling.

There was a call on Twitter and other social media to boycott the cable television when the price hike was announced. The #BoycottDSTV trended for days on Twitter.

The price hike also happened at the time of a brutal xenophobic attack in South Africa, which helped to inflame the anger of many Nigerians calling for the boycott of the cable station and other South African businesses in the country.

Though there are other cable stations in the country, DSTV enjoys a somewhat monopolistic share of the market with its premium programmed such the the English Premiership football league which enjoys a huge following in the country.

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