By Olalekan Bilesanmi
The face-off between the Consumer Protection Council,CPC, and Multichoice got to a head, last week, when the CPC swooped on Lagos Island headquarters of the pay – TV firm to carry out an enforcement exercise.
The enforcement exercise, led by the CPC Director of Legal Services, Mr. Emmanuel Ataguba, came on the heels of alleged attempts by Multichoice officials to obstruct the course of investigation into the company’s operations.
The raid saw the Council officials leaving with laptop computers and important documents about the company’s operations and subscribers.
Multichoice, according to a source close to it, was mindful of the fact that it’s data could be leaked to competitors once it was available outside the safety of her system. It further stated that the insistence of the CPC that the pay-TV firm handover it’s exclusive contracts with its customers was baffling and wondered how such action of the CPC could aid consumer protection.
There are insinuations within and outside Multichoice that this may be the voice of CPC at work but certainly the hand of some powerful competitors directing it based on the kind of demands the regulatory body was making. One of such demands is that Multichoice should provide comprehensive data of its subscribers. Broadcast industry experts are at a loss on how this will help the CPC protect those consumers.
Their is a growing fear in the industry that some competing companies may be using the CPC to attack Multichoice dominance of the market, developed over 22 years, using government magic.
Another criticism trailing the CPC action was the raid on Multichoice office without legal backing. Analysts were curious as to why the CPC did not go to court to compel the pay-TV firm to produce the documents it wanted from Multichoice instead of using military era tactics which included harassment. Consumers who were at the Multichoice office were said to have been harassed during the raid.
There were also fears that this kind of attack have a tendency to hurt Nigeria’s potentials to attract direct foreign investment.