By Our Reporter
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has formally unveiled the reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code. The Code contains the Antitrust provision which is aimed at boosting local content and encouraging the growth of the local industry, among other provisions.
The Minister who unveilled the new code at a ceremony in Lagos on Tuesday noted that the Antitrust provision will further boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves.
He said the Antitrust provision would also encourage open access to premium content. In his words; “I must explain that this provision is not new to Nigeria Broadcasting. Exclusivity was disallowed at a certain time in the history of our broadcasting. I recall Multichoice sub-licensing EPL matches to other local operators in Nigeria. I recall HITV engaging several local operators on sub-licensing the EPL when they got the rights,”
He disclosed that the revised Code contains the law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts in order to promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content as well as the law on registration of Web Broadcasting, which will grant the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm the nation.
Alhaji Lai explained that;”The provisions on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies…obviously mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at time of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment”.
The amended Code according to the Minister of Information also includes; the provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5million Naira. Alhaji Mohammed added that the amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive, in the wake of the 2019 general elections, for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the NBC with a view to repositioning the regulator for optimum performance.
“As it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria. Our intention remains the good of the country. We need to catalyze the growth of the local industry. We need to create jobs for our teeming creative youths. The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of attaining this. That’s why we will not waver,” the Minister said.
For his part, the Acting Director General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, gave the present administration a pat on the back for showing keen interest in the development of the Broadcasting Industry through the implementation of reforms and several other interventions.