By Technology Times Staff Reporter
Lagos. February 28, 2013: The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) today said it has fined MTN Nigeria and three companies a total of N22 million for contravening the ban on telecoms promotions and lotteries imposed on telecoms companies in November last year over flagging service quality.
The announcement by NCC also confirms Technology Times exclusive report of Sunday February 24, 2013, “Government may sanction four operators for alleged flouting of telecoms promotions, lottery ban” that reported the then impeding regulatory sanction against the four biggest telecoms companies in Nigeria.
The regulator says that the four mobile companies, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Etisalat Nigeria and Globacom are to pay the N22 million, “being the cumulative amount in sanctions for contravening the ban on promotions and lotteries in their respective networks as placed by the Commission.”
MTN Nigeria, the number one operator by subscriber numbers, will pay the biggest fine of N10 million Naira on account of five promotions at N2 million for each promotion, the regulator says.
Reuben Muoka, NCC spokesman announced in a statement today that Etisalat is to also pay N6 million for three promotions on its network; Airtel Nigeria is to pay N4million for running two promotions while Globacom will pay N2 million for one promotion.
The affected operators have been given seven days to pay the fines from February 22, this year, the date they were issued the notice of the sanctions and also risk paying N1 million per day for as long as payment default persists, NCC says.
Muoka adds that MTN was sanctioned for running five promotions and some of those cited by the regulator include “Free Airtime for MTN to MTN calls (8AM – 5PM), MTN to MTN SMS and free MB for Data. Dial *559#”; “Free N100.00 airtime for MTN to MTN calls, Airtime Bonus valid for life. Dial *559#”; “MTN Super Saver, get 500%, bonus valid till midnight. Dial *507#”; “Recharge with N100.00 today and get N500 FREE credit instantly. Hurry and recharge before January 22nd.“
In the case of Etisalat, NCC says that three promotions that attracted regulatory sanctions include “Buy a MIFI device and get 1GB free for six months”; “Buy a Router device and get 50 MB free data spread over four months” and “Get 30% instant bonus on every plan subscription/renewal over 200MB.”
On the other hand, Airtel is being sanctioned for two promotions: “Dongle and MIFI Offerings” and “Reverse Auction Service.”
Globacom’s contravention is for one promotion cited as “BUY Samsung Galaxy SIII, or Galaxy Note II and get free 500 MB on activation, and free 100MB X 6 Months.”
Josephine Amuwa, Director of Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC said in the letter notifying the companies of the sanction that, “in the event of further non-compliance with the ban, and or refusal to pay the sanction amount within the stipulated time, the Commission shall have no other option than to impose stiffer penalties in accordance with the powers of the Commission, including but not limited to payment of N1,000,000 (One Million Naira) for each day that the contravention persists.”
NCC says that the failure of the service providers to discontinue the promotions in accordance with the commission’s directives is a direct contravention of Guidelines on Adverts and Promotions, as well as the Nigerian Communications (Enforcement Processes, etc) Regulations 2005.
The regulator, in a letter dated November 8, 2012, directed all the licensees to discontinue all promotions and lotteries running on their networks with immediate effect.
The ban covered proposed and approved promotions and lotteries after the Commission was inundated with several complaints from consumers and stakeholders against various promotions in the various networks, Muoka adds.