Minister unveils reviewed broadcasting code

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…Says hate speech fine now from N500,000 to N5m

THE Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday, unveiled the reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code which contains the Antitrust provision aimed at boosting local content and encouraging the growth of the local industry, among other provisions.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony organized by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, in Lagos, the Minister said the Antitrust provision will 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.

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 said the revised Code contains the law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts to promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content, as well as the law on the registration of Web Broadcasting, which will grant the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm the nation.

”The provisions on the responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at times of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment,” the Minister said.

Hate Speech fine

Besides, he said the amended Code also includes the provision raising the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

Alhaji Mohammed clarified 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 to reposition the regulator for optimum performance.

He said: “But, 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.”

In his remarks, the Acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, commended the present administration for showing keen interest in the development of the Broadcasting Industry through the implementation of reforms and several other interventions.

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