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Despite industry-wide opposition, Lai launches controversial NBC code

Despite industry-wide opposition, Lai launches controversial NBC code
August 04
17:20 2020

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, on Tuesday presented the 6th national broadcasting code at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

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The controversial code was recently released by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to wide opposition and anger — with Wole Soyinka, literary giant, describing it as “economic sabotage”.

Jason Njoku, CEO of IrokoTV, branded it as “quasi-socialism” and a means of subsidising inefficiency in the industry.

Mohammed said at the launch, which was initially described as a “press briefing”, that the code is “signed, sealed and delivered”.

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Some of the criticisms of the code centre on what industry stakeholders call “draconian” rules that make the NBC adjudicate in areas over which it has no jurisdiction.

The code seeks to regulate content exclusivity, enforce content sharing and empower the NBC to determine prices at which content is sold to sub-licensees by rights holders.

Mohammed said the prohibition of exclusivity is not new to Nigerian broadcasting.

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“Nigerian Copyright Commission Act actually makes it mandatory that if you buy a right, you must sell that right to whoever wants to buy at a price to be agreed by the parties. By bringing it into the code, we are simply reinforcing the law,” he said.

“The truth is that all the giants of the day, Amazon, Nextflix and iTunes started by sublicensing to become what they are.

“It is only here in Africa that we buy rights and hold it to ourselves.”

On the allegation that the NBC is straying into areas over which it has no control, especially advertising regulation and debts, the minister said as the apex broadcast industry regulator, it is the duty of the NBC to ensure a sustainable, qualitative and profitable industry.

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Industry stakeholders have also branded the code as agenda-driven, noting that they were excluded from making input before the code was finalised and described its unveiling as an ambush.

Mohammed is believed to be trying to pave the way for a backdoor entry into pay TV business by a industry player who had previously failed despite enjoying government protection.

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