Nigerias’ Telecoms operators risk licence revocation over unapproved adverts
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may revoke the operating licence of companies that fail to obtain the necessary approvals for their advertisements and promotional messages under new rules unveiled weekend by the regulator to protect consumers in the nation’s telecoms market.
This is good news for Nigeria’s community of phone users where active subscription base has crossed 66 million active lines and growth outlooks are positive for internet services as the regulator has directed operators to publicly disclose the connection speeds of their internet services.
“Licensees offering internet connections should state the internet connection speed available to end-users as well as specific upload and download speed. If the connection speed quoted is only obtainable under special circumstances, then these circumstances should be clearly stated”, stated the new guidelines unveiled on the NCC website.
The new guidelines, “NCC Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions”, were developed to set minimum requirements and standards for advertisements and promotions of products and services by telecoms operators in Nigeria to protect consumers and ensure ethical marketing and promotional standards, the regulator said.
NCC said that based on the provisions of Regulation 15 of Nigerian Communications (Enforcement Processes etc., Regulations 2005, it will impose the following penalties for non-compliance:
• Any violation of these guidelines - N1, 000,000 per violation;
• Failure to provide information required or providing information which is false or misleading - N1, 000, 000 per violation;
• Failure to obtain prior approval of the Commission for the promotion of goods and services - N2, 000, 000 per violation;
• Failure or refusal to register any promotions with the Consumer Protection Council within the specified period - N5, 000,000.00 per violation;
• Withdrawal, (revocation) or suspension of the Operators license;
• Suspension of licensee from participating or embarking on further promotional activities for such duration and based on such terms and conditions as the Commission may specify.
NCC said it is necessary that the telecoms operator provides a written notification of all advertisements for goods and services within a minimum of seven days of the proposed or planned publication of an advertisement.
To seek approvals, the regulator expects operators’ adverts to meet standards and requirements that include attaching a detailed report of their advertisement, clearly specifying the goods and services and the target consumers; adhering to set standards for quality and grade of service set by NCC and adhering to set standards on telecoms products and equipment that are manufactured, imported or sold in Nigeria.
As the telecoms regulator, NCC said it has substantial power to disapprove any advertisement proposal from telecoms operators on the following grounds: network congestion, poor performance of the network, consumer complaints, misrepresentation of offer by the operator and variation from submitted application content.
Upon the disapproval of the proposal, the regulator directed that the affected operator must discontinue such sales with immediate effect, while adding that the discontinuation must be communicated to subscribers through SMS, website publication, newspaper and any other effective medium of communication.