Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, Tuesday unveiled the reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code which contains Antitrust provision aimed at boosting local content and growth of the local broadcasting industry.
The amended Code also includes the provision raising the fine for hate speech from N500, 000 to N5 million.
The Minister explained 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 Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) with a view to repositioning the regulator for optimum performance.
The Antitrust provisions contain laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves. The provision would also encourage open access to premium content.
‘’I must explain that this provision is not new to Nigerian Broadcasting. Exclusivity was disallowed at a certain time in history 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’’ the Minister said during the unveiling.
The Revised Code also contains the law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts in order to promote sustainability for 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.
According to Lai Mohammed, ‘’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.’’
He said despite the attacks by some vested interests, who believe that their singular business interest is superior to national interest, over the provisions of the amended Code, the Federal Government remains unperturbed.
‘’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 youths. The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of attaining this. That is why we will not waver,’’ the Minister said.