Airtel, MTN, others to pay N22m sanction breaching ban on promotions

By The Citizen

Four mobile service providers, Airtel Networks Ltd, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Ltd (Etisalat), Globacom Ltd and MTN Communications Nigeria Ltd, are to pay a total sum of N22, 000,000 ( Twenty Two Million Naira Only) being the cumulative amount in sanctions for contravening the ban on promotions and lotteries in their respective networks as placed by the Commission.

According to a statement by the Nigeria Communications Commission, MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, is to pay N10,000,000 (Ten Million Naira) on account of five promotions at N2,000,000(Two Million Naira) for each promotion while Etisalat  is to pay N6,000,000 (Six Million Naira) for three promotions in its network. Airtel is to pay N4,000,000 (Four Million Naira) for running two promotions against the ban while Globacom will pay N2,000,000 ( Two Million) for one promotion.

The statement further directed that all the affected operators have seven days to pay their respective sanction amounts from date of receipt of the sanction notice on February 22, 2013,  and are liable to  payment of the sum of N1,000,000 ( One Million Naira) for any day that the contravention persists.

Sanctions on MTN were as a result of five promotions viz:

1.     Free Airtime for MTN to MTN calls (8AM - 5PM), MTN to MTN SMS and free MB for Data. Dial *559#.

2.     Free N100.00 airtime for MTN to MTN calls, Airtime Bonus valid for life. Dial *559#.

3.     MTN Super Saver, get 500%, bonus valid till midnight. Dial *507#.

4.     Recharge with N100.00 today and get N500 FREE credit instantly. Hurry and recharge before January 22nd.

In the case of Etisalat, three promotions that attracted it sanctions include:

1.     Buy a MIFI device and get 1GB free for six months.

2.     Buy a Router device and get 50 MB free data spread over four months.

3.     Get 30% instant bonus on every plan subscription/renewal over 200MB.

On the other hand, Airtel is being sanctioned for two promotions:

1.     Dongle and MIFI Offerings
2.     Reverse Auction Service.
Globacom's contravention is for one promotion:
1.     BUY Samsung Galaxy SIII, or Galaxy Note II and get free 500 MB on activation, and free 100MB X 6 Months.

The notice of the sanctions, signed by the Commission's Director of Legal and Regulatory Services, Ms. Josephine Amuwa, said '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'.

The notice stated 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 Commission has 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.