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NCC slams N22m on telecoms operators for promo ban contravention

By The Citizen
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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has slammed four mobile service providers, Airtel Networks Ltd, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Ltd (Etisalat), Globacom Ltd and MTN Communications Nigeria Ltd, with a N22 million being the cumulative amount in sanctions for contravening the ban on promotions and lotteries in their respective networks.

NCC explained that MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd is to pay N10 million on account of five promotions at N2 million for each promotion while Etisalat is to pay N6 million for three promotions in its network. The regulator fined Airtel N4 million for running two promotions against the ban while Globacom will pay N2 million for one promotion.

All the operators have seven days to pay their respective fines from date of receipt of the sanction notice on February 22, 2013, and are liable to payment of N1 million for any day that the contravention persists.

NCC's Head of Media and Public Relations, Ruben Mouka, further explained that MTN’s sanction was as a result of five promotions which 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 per cent, 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, three promotions that attracted it sanctions include, according to the regulator were the 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 per cent instant bonus on every plan subscription/renewal over 200MB.

On the other hand, Airtel, according to NCC, was sanctioned for two promotions including; dongle and MIFI offerings and the reverse auction service.

NCC accused Globacom of one contravention, which was for one

Samsung Galaxy SIII, or Galaxy Note II and get free 500 MB on activation, and free 100MB X 6 Months.

Indeed, 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 million 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 among others) Regulations 2005.   The Commission has in a letter dated November 8, 2012, directed all the licencees 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.