DTT Content Aggregator Sues NBC N15 billion for Damages

Mallam Is'haq Modibbo Kawu
Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)

Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL), a consortium of licensed cable television content aggregator for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Digital Satellite (DSAT) Free-to-view platforms, has sued the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) claiming N15 Billion as general and exemplary damages for the alleged wrongful revocation of its content aggregation licence for the digital switch-over.

In a suit filed before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, CCNL is challenging the power of the NBC to revoke its licence without following due process and therefore demanded from the Commission the sum of N10billion as general damages, N5billion as exemplary damages, and another N20million as legal fee incurred by it for the prosecution of the case.

In the suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2018 instituted by its counsel, T. Y. Musa (SAN), CCNL pleaded that the action of the NBC to revoke the content aggregation licence granted it by the NBC and which it had been operating for over two years, was unjustified, unknown to law and thus a nullity.

CCNL is also seeking the court’s declaration that the revocation of the licence awarded it without any default on its part renders the licence fee of N150 million it paid NBCrecoverable for total failure for consideration.

The Consortium also demanded the sum of $4, 771,188.00 or the naira equivalence, being the amount NBC guaranteed to pay it covering a period of two years in respect of the cost it incurred by entering into contractual agreement with SES Affiliate New Skies Satellites B.V.

SES Affiliate New Skies Satellites B.V. is the firm that was said to have executed the contract for the provision of services for the execution of an operation of the content aggregation licence.

According to Musa, the crux of the matter was that the NBC revoked the licence it gave to CCNL with the intention of awarding it to another company.

CCNL also asked the court to restrain NBC, the Minister of Justice, their agents, privies or anyone at all from using the Free TV, being a trademark registered by it and from passing off CCNL’s Free TV trademark.

Musa requested that the status quo as at June 22, 2018 be made to remain aS the state of the matter pending the determination of the motion on notice.

When the matter came up for hearing on October 30, 2018, neither the NBC nor the Minister of Justice was in court nor were they represented by any lawyer.

The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, directed CCNL’s counsel to file a further affidavit containing the list of alleged untoward steps or actions taken by the NBC and Minister of Justice to overreach the court and render the matter nugatory. He subsequently adjourned the matter to November 19, 2018 and ordered that hearing notice be served on the parties.

Cable Channels Nigeria Ltd (CCNL) is the is the Official Nigerian Licensed content aggregator for the DTT and DSAT Free-to-view platforms with the responsibilities to manage, market and promote to the final consumer as a part of the Nigerian National Digital Switchover (DSO) Strategy. It is the operator of the FreeTV brand, a Free-To-View broadcasting platform offering home Entertainment services as well as News & Information Service to its viewers with a minimum of 30 Channels.