Mauritius | Hi-Tech

April 30, 2013

Payment of the License Fee: MBC Monopoly Debate

"The charge should increase." This phrase of Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam powered at present the payment of the monthly fee, payable by the Mauritian families Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

An increase of this fee would be justified, given that the national broadcasting station is a monopoly?

The monthly fee of Rs 100 from the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation is back in the news after Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam announced at the parliamentary session of April 16, it should have been revised upwards.

But this increase is justified, legal and constitutional, given the fact that the national broadcasting station occupies a monopoly position in Mauritius? Mr Germain Wong Yuen Kook, lawyer, believes constitutes a violation of the Competition Act 2007. The Chief Executive Officer of the Competition Commission of Mauritius (CCM), Kiran Meetarbhan said for his part that the commission can not question a price increase is the result of a government decision.

The fee depends on the power consumption

Mr Germain Wong Yuen Kook explains that the monthly fee of the MBC is governed by the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (Collection of License Fees) Act 1984. The Act provides, inter alia, that "license fees" depend on the power consumption of the subscriber to the MBC.

If the power consumption is less than 396 kilowatts, the fee is fixed at Rs 20. However, if power consumption exceeds this threshold, then the fee goes to Rs 100.

Mr Germain Wong Yuen Kook said that the increase in "license fees" could be an obstacle to the Competition Act of 2007, given the dominant position of the MBC in the local market.

"A company or entity is considered a monopoly if it owns 30% of the market. In the case of MBC, its market share is close to 100%. There could be a violation of Article 46 of the Competition Act. "

Kiran Meetarbhan, who is also lawyer, said, meanwhile, that a monopoly exists when three companies also occupy 70% market share.

Mr Germain Wong Yuen Kook adds that the purpose of the CCM is to promote healthy competition among market players. He explains that the dominant position of the MBC and confers monopoly status as Mauritius Telecom.

According to Mr. Wong Yuen Germain Kook, the fact that the levy is imposed indiscriminately and mandatorily also constitutes an obstacle to Article 46 (2) (b) of the Competition Act. "Imagine a situation where a person receives a high electricity bill without watching MBC", does he asks.

Counsel argues that under Article 3 of the Competition Act, the CCM can investigate a case of this kind. "I think if a person files a complaint with the Competition Commission of Mauritius, it should conduct an investigation to determine whether there is an abuse by a parastatal organization," says Mr. Germain Wong.

Kiran Meetarbhan however the opposite view. It states that, in general, the Commission may act when there is an abuse of monopoly or any impediment to competition law. "When it comes to a price increase and the circumstances in which this increase takes place, the Commission may initiate an investigation, and it may impose certain measures. Under the powers conferred by section 60 of the Competition Act it, the Commission may ask the company in question no longer resort to anti-competitive practice, "does it come out.

However, the owner of the Competition Commission of Mauritius states that it has no power to challenge a price increase performed by an entity when the increase is the result of a government decision. "The Commission may advise the Government on any action taken or contemplated by the State or a public organization that could have a negative impact on competition. But his role ends there, "she says.

Mr Germain Wong Yuen Kook is also revealed that the mandatory imposition of the fee of Rs 100 is not unconstitutional, although it may be unfair. "It would be far unconstitutional. Everything that is illegal is not necessarily unconstitutional, "recalls the lawyer.

He explains that the laws are presumed constitutional and, therefore, the MBC (Imposition of License Fees Act) enjoys the presumption until proven otherwise.

Navin Ramgoolam: "The Rs 100, in fact, should have been increased "

It is a response from the deputy Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), Rajesh Bhagwan, that Navin Ramgoolam spoke on increasing the monthly fee of Rs 100. " Can I ask the Hon. Prime Minister to ask the Director of Audit to conduct an enquiry on the outsourcing by the MBC to that company where senior officials of the MBC have direct link to make money out of our Rs 100 "asked the purple Member in his parliamentary question. The Prime Minister said in the wake of the Rs 100 should have been increased. " The Rs 100, in fact, should have been increased "

 

 

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