Friday, December 13, 2013

Reps to investigate GSM operators over fraudulent promos, intervenes in BON, IBAN and COSON face-off

The House of Representatives has mandated its committee on communications to investigate alleged fraudulent practices in marketing promotions by telecommunication service providers in Nigeria.

The report of the committee is expected to be laid before the House within four weeks.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of the prayers of a joint motion brought before the House by two members, Hons. Eddie Mbadiwe and Frank Enokorogha.

The lawmakers drew the attention of the House to allegations of "unethical" practices by MTN and other telecommunication service providers who send text messages to subscribers, asking them to partake in certain sales promotions, and charging them fees even when such subscribers do not partake in the promotions.

They said the companies have garnered millions of Naira and that "innocent citizens who have not subscribed to some of these sales gimmicks are being charged without authorization and credit refunds are refused when demanded."

The lawmakers noted that there is a need to checked the trend or "Nigerians would continue to unlawfully lose their hard earned money without hope of any redress."

The House also sought an end to the face-off between the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) and the BON/ Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) as it gave its committee on Information the mandate of the House to step in between the warring parties.

The House has further urged that the airplay ban imposed on the music of COSON members by BON and IBAN be withdrawn.

The motion was brought in by Chairman of the House Committee on the Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa under matters of urgent public importance, got the House intervening in the said the current face-off between BON, IBAN and COSON.

COSON headed by Tony Okoroji has approval from the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to be the sole copyright management organisation acting on behalf of authors, composers, performers, publishers of Musical works and owners of sound recordings in the country.

The Organisation had dragged some stations to court while trying to get them pay alleged huge outstanding sums as royalties for music airplay to its member and BON and IBAN had responded by banning, from December 15, 2013, airplay of songs by artistes who are members of COSON.

But Dabiri-Erewa, while presenting her argument said that the House should urge that the face-off impasse should be amicably resolved through dialogue.

According to her, the decision by BON and IBAN , if implemented "would impact negatively on our image," adding that the House, through its Committee on Information should urgently intervene so that the problem would not degenerate into a bigger crisis.

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