The Federal Government of Nigeria reconsiders a review of the recently-amended National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo announced the decision to review the NBC Code.
This is after his conversation with Facebook’s VP of Policy and Communication, Nick Clegg.
Without a doubt, no private Pay-TV owner would agree to such a negative broadcasting code.
One that bans the exclusive possession of a content.
In the broadcasting industry, one of the many ways to stay afloat is content exclusivity.
What then happens when a government’s rule kicks against such ‘advantage cards’ in a business?
Far from unfahese kinds of measures have opposite effects.
All that’s left for such a private firm is a ‘general market’ which often turns out unfavourable.
Well, let’s take a pause and examine the main issue on the ground.
Summary of what happened
Firstly, this is not about the NBC.
A few months back, the FG through the Ministry of Information and Culture moved to amend the NBC Code.
According to the Ministry led by Lai Mohammed, there was a need to amend the NBC code.
As such, to promote the activities of the “local leagues.”
This led to a brief disagreement between the Ministry and the NBC board who believed otherwise.
The NBC chairman, Ikra Bilbis had gone public to clear the air stating that;
“The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, erroneously amended the sixth edition of the NBC Code.”
At the launch of the amended NBC Code, the Hon. Minister claimed to have strictly followed the presidential directive.
“The aim was to reposition the NBC for optimum performance,” Mohammed said.
Either way, the newly amended NBC Code is far from graciously received by the industry stakeholders.
More so, the new Code has also generated a lot of controversy amongst concerned Nigerians.
Major highlights of the NBC Code
Some of the major concerns addressed in the new Code include hate speech and content exclusivity.
The Ministry raised the hate speech fine from ₦500, 000 to ₦5 million.
Alongside, the Ministry further Stiffened the web broadcasting regulations.
Also, the aspect that addresses content exclusivity was visited.
According to the Ministry, No Pay TV will any longer have exclusive rights to any content.
In other words, this particular regulation mandates the sub-licensing of content among vendors.
FG’s aims to also regulate prices at which content is sub-licensed.
While these are the few that caught much attention, there are other amendments made to the new Code.
Impact of the amended NBC Code so far
As expected, the NBC Code got a massive backlash from various stakeholders.
This is mainly because they are at the receiving end of the regulation.
Also, a couple of PAY TV platforms like Netflix, DSTV, e.t.c are reportedly reconsidering their investment in Nigeria.
Looking closely, the CEO of iROKOTV, Jason Njoku, outpoured his thoughts via a Tweet.
Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) In making exclusivity illegal, compelling sub-licensing of content & regulating price, are effectively turning private enterprise into state property. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾. Interference Distorts Markets. If implemented this 100% destroys PayTV in Nigeria
— JasonNjoku (@JasonNjoku) June 10, 2020
According to him, the new Code will effectively turn a private enterprise into state property.
“Interference distorts markets.
“If implemented this 100% destroys Pay TV in Nigeria,” Njoku said.
After this statement, iROKOTV tentative clamped down on its business growth in the country.
The FG seems to have an ideal understanding of how things should work.
Thanks to the chats between VP Osinbajo’s and Facebook’s Nick Clegg.
In the latest, VP Osibanjo claimed the regulation is not supposed to be mandatory.
Instead, it is supposed to allow a seamless co-sharing of contents across board.
He added that the part of copyright and intellectual ownership could not be undermined.
Hence, the FG is going to “take a second look at the amended NBC Code.”
Moving forward, the FG will find ways of moderating the NBC Code to be more acceptable.
Impact of tech advancement
Before its final verdict, the FG blamed its wrong decision on “dealing with uncharted territories.”
VP Osinbajo particularly stated that the change in the tech space is rapid.
That way, regulators are often chasing after “innovation”, and not otherwise.
While doing this, it’s elementary to misplace priorities and embrace what’s not.
This is evident in the ban on exclusivity in content distribution.
However, with the possible review underway, it’s best to hope for a non-detrimental regulation.
If you happen to be the CEO of a Pay-TV platform, what would be your reactions?
Kindly share with us in the comments section below.
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