Cellphone firms in scrap over advert

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CellCCEOAllanKnott Independent Newspapers. Cell C chief executive Alan Knott-Craig. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Cape Town - Mobile network operator Cell C is considering appealing against a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority that found its ad poking fun at rival MTN misleading and exploiting consumers.

Last week the authority ordered Cell C to remove the radio commercial suggesting that MTN was a “fat cat” which did not care about its customers.

“It is unfortunate that the ASA ruled that the radio advertisement was in breach of the ASA Code."

“We believe that the advertisement was factual and in the public interest. We are considering appealing the ASA’s ruling,” Cell C spokesman Vinnie Santu told the Cape Times yesterday.

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MTN instituted litigation against the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) for a decision to lower inter-connect rates charged by bigger network operators to smaller networks like Cell C.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the Cell C radio commercial, first flighted on February 20, was misleading and exploited the consumer’s lack of knowledge in the matter.

“The radio commercial must be withdrawn."

“The process to withdraw the commercial must be actioned with immediate effect on receipt of this ruling,” the authority said. It also said the commercial may not be used again in its current format.

Cell C’s goes: “Everyone wants to pay less for their cellular calls, right? Well, perhaps not.

“You see, one of South Africa’s biggest and most profitable cellular companies is taking the regulator to court over a regulation that says that they have to lower their interconnect rates.

“If those rates are reduced, then call rates could be lowered too. So their lawyers are going to try and get the regulator to change the regulation it has already made.

“And where will they get the money for these lawyers? Well, if you’re on their network, every time you make a call, or text, or surf the net, part of the money you pay will be given to the lawyers who are trying to stop these lower rates.

“So you have a choice – you can either sit there, do nothing, and help them, because hey! perhaps you don’t mind all this, or you could change to the network that cut call rates long ago because it’s the right thing to do. You can change to the network that offers the lowest guaranteed flat call rate in South Africa.

“You can change to Cell C. ”

In their complaint MTN said the ad was dishonest, made misleading claims, insinuated that MTN was motivated by greed and did not care about its customers.

But in its submission to the authority, Cell C had denied making the statements. - Cape Times



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