MultiChoice: Appeal court asks NBC to constitute panel

THE Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt on Wednesday directed the National Broadcasting Commission to, within 21 days, constitute a panel to look into the complaints of Metro Digital Limited.

This is as the court dismissed the reliefs sought by Metro Digital to compel leading entertainment company, MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, to sub-licence some channels to the former.

Metro Digital Limited had approached a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt after MultiChoice turned down its request for the sublicensing of some of its channels on the ground that it does not own the rights to the channels and programmes for which the request was made.

Last year, Metro Digital’s case was dismissed by the Federal High Court on the ground that it was unable to contradict MultiChoice’s claim that it does not own the rights to the content requested.

In his judgment on Wednesday, Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe said the failure of NBC as a regulatory body to issue directive to the complaints of the dispute by the appellant (Metro Digital) after receipt of its complaints was a breach of his statutory duty and has frustrated the appellant business and an infringement of the appellant rights.

Joined in the suit are MultiChoice as first respondent, NBC and Ministry of Information and Culture are second and third respondents respectively.

The judge said, “The lower court also erred when it dismissed the suit of the appellant, when the appellant proved the existence of the dispute between himself and the first respondent which should have been reserved for determination of the second respondent.

“The appeal is highly successful, and the judgment of the lower court dismissing the entirety of the appellant is hereby set aside.

“An order of mandatory injunction is here to compel the second respondent to heed directives of the appellant complaints against the first respondent pursuant to the Nigerian Broadcasting Code (6th edition) as amended.

“The second respondent shall initiate the process for the determination of dispute between the appellant and the first respondent within 21days from the date of this judgement under the auspices of the NBC Act, 6th edition of the NBC Code and its addendum,” he stated.

Speaking to our correspondent outside the courtroom, counsel to the appellant, Anaetochukwu Nworgu, said the ruling was justice for all citizens of Nigeria.

“It is justice for the whole country. What MultiChoice has been doing in this country cannot happen in other countries. They can’t do it in South Africa. They want to enjoy monopoly even when the Federal Government has said no.

“We came to court to compel MultiChoice to sub-license the enumerated channels we requested pursuant to the NBC code.

“The lower court denied that they have no sub-licensing rights. The learned justice today gave them (MultiChoice) 21 days to comply with that order and obey the court and grant the licenses requested by my client,” Nworgu stated.

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