Operators and experts are expressing anger and frustration over the provisions of the 6th edition of the Broadcasting Code Amendment as issued by National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), that summarily outlaws exclusivity and makes investing in original content a waste of resources, fundamentally.
The NBC has however insisted that the broadcasting Code is to protect local operators, promote creativity and maximise local contents.
But the operators which the NBC claims to be protecting said the government agency’s plan is tantamount to “turning private enterprises into state property”.
Under the new code, NBC requires that all online broadcasters to be with it, prevent PayTV and streaming platforms from making content exclusive and compel them to sub-license content at prices it will regulate.
Jason Njoku, chief executive officer, iRokoTV, one of the top PayTV platforms in Nigeria, warned that the new law if implemented, will destroy PayTV in Nigeria and alleged that NBC in compelling sub-licensing of content & regulating price, would effectively turn a private enterprise into state property.
Njoku said, “Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in making exclusivity illegal, compelling sub-licensing of content & regulating price, are effectively turning the private enterprise into state property. Interference Distorts Markets. If implemented this 100% destroys PayTV in Nigeria.
Also, Paradigm Initiative said the Code might set back innovation in the country’s digital space.
According to the Paradigm Initiative, “The internet space in Nigeria is developing and innovation is to be encouraged,”.
“However, policies like this can greatly discourage the development of technology and technology-based services thereby creating an unfavourable environment for the kind of economic growth that is relevant in this age.” It said.
Elsewhere, Ayobami Oyeleke, policy expert and a lawyer explained that the NBC, which was created by a military decree in 1992 and later became an Act of the Nigerian National Assembly to regulate Nigeria’s broadcast industry, does not have the power to regulate copyrights of others.
But Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of NBC, said that the Code Amendment is to protect local operators, promote creativity and maximise local contents.
Idachaba, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that the amendment would benefit the media industry in the country as well as attract foreign investments in the digital space.
According to him, the amendment which is without bias will checkmate monopolistic and anti/competitive behavior and by extension enhance the local creative industry.
“The objectives behind the amendment is key and pivotal to the development of broadcasting in Nigeria and the reform of the industry.
“However, while NBC acknowledge the mixed reactions by some interests to the release of the amendment, we consider the strategic and healthy for the growth and development of the broadcast industry in Nigeria.
“I want to sincerely commend those who have intellectualised and enriched the discourse with incisive and decent arguments both for and against.