The court of appeal sitting in Port Harcourt has asked National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to address the sublicense requests from MultiChoice Nigeria Limited by Metro Digital Limited.
Metro Digital is a multi-channel terrestrial digital satellite service provider in Nigeria.
MultiChoice is the South African owner of the satellite television services, DStv and GOtv — popular subscription-based platforms in Nigeria.
Apart from MultiChoice, NBC and the ministry of information and culture were second and third respondents in the suit.
In the judgement delivered on Wednesday, Olabode Adegbehingbe, the judge, ruled that the lower court erred when it dismissed the suit of Metro Digital (the appellant), where the appellant proved the existence of the dispute between itself and MultiChoice (the first respondent).
“It is my conclusion that the lower court erred when it struck out the name of the third respondent on the suit.
“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 the dispute between the appellant and the first respondent within 21days from the date of this judgment under the auspices of the NBC Act, 6th edition of the NBC Code and its addendum.”
Adegbehingbe also urged NBC (the second respondent) to look into the letter written by the appellant and then call both parties for deliberation within 21 days.
According to The Nation, Prof A. Amuda-Kannike, SAN, lawyer of the first respondent (MultiChoice), said they would likely challenge the judgement at the supreme court.
“Our contention is that code is contrary to the provision of the constitution, and it’s not an Act of the National or State Assembly, therefore it is null and void,” The Nation quoted him as saying.
“I have not seen anywhere in Nigeria where a Code made by an institution, not the national assembly will now override the provision of rights guaranteed under the provision of the constitution; and the constitution is more supreme than any other law.”
Metro Digital had approached a federal high court in Port Harcourt after MultiChoice rejected its request for the sublicensing rights to retail some channels and programmes to its subscribers.
But MultiChoice Nigeria had claimed that channels for which Metro Digital sought sub-licensing rights are not owned by it.
Not satisfied with MultiChoice’s reason for the rejection, the company approached the court of law for redress.
In 2021, the court dismissed Metro Digital’s case, stating that the cable television operator had failed to contradict MultiChoice’s claim of lack of ownership rights/sublicensing rights to the content sought.
COURT DISMISSED METRO DIGITAL’S REQUEST ON OUR CLIENT — MULTICHOICE LAWYERS
In a statement made available to TheCable, Toyin Pinheiro, principal partner, C.O Pinheiro and Co. Law Practice, legal representatives of MultiChoice Nigeria, said the court only directed the National Broadcasting Commission (the 2nd Respondent) to constitute a panel within 21 days to look into the complaints of Metro Digital Limited.
“It is a misrepresentation of the judgment of the Court of Appeal Port Harcourt Division delivered on the 13th of July 2022. The court only directed the National Broadcasting Commission (the 2nd Respondent) to constitute a panel within 21 days to look into the complaints of Metro Digital Limited,” Pinheiro said.
“The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, dismissed the reliefs prayed by Metro Digital Limited seeking to compel MultiChoice Nigeria Limited to sub-licence some channels to Metro Digital Limited.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the court directed NBC to address Metro Digital’s request and dismissed the lower court’s decision on the matter.
Source: Top Stories
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