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Govt has declared war against the arts, says Soyinka on amended NBC code

Govt has declared war against the arts, says Soyinka on amended NBC code
July 07
17:16 2020
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Wole Soyinka, playwright and Nobel laureate, has described the amended 6th broadcasting code by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as an “economic sabotage”. 

In a statement on Tuesday, Soyinka said it is better for the government to admit its war on “arts and its producers instead of its tactics of slowly weakening the sector”.

The NBC had reviewed some parts of the broadcasting code which affect content producers on web/online media.

This has generated different reactions, with the Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) calling for the suspension of the implementation of the amended code.

Some stakeholders, who have also called for the suspension of the implementation of the code, said the new broadcasting code place unfair and unrealistic burdens on the industry and would affect the development of the sector.

In a statement on Tuesday, Soyinka said after reading excerpts from the newly proposed NBC broadcasting code, he discovered some “potentially dangerous aspects of the code”.

“I think it is about time the government come out openly and admit that it has declared war against the Arts and its producers, instead of its present tactics of piecemeal attrition,” Soyinka said.

“Just when we were reeling from the action of the Ministry of Youth and Development in joining hands with book pirates by providing a free-loading portal for the works of Nigerian authors, among others, along comes a new regulatory hit against the cinema and video enterprise, and its operators.

“Let me quickly utilise the opening of this new flank to commend the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for his prompt attention to the complaint by Nigerian authors.”

He added that some of the regulations restrict intellectual property rights with who they choose to work with.

Noting that the new code will place unfair burden on the sector, he, therefore, asked the government to desists from stifling the industry.

“And now it is the turn of a sister industry to be placed under siege! I have just read excerpts of the newly proposed NBC broadcasting code and become aware of some potentially dangerous aspects of the code. Whilst one concedes that some of the regulations are well-intentioned, I shudder to imagine unintended consequences such as backhanded censorship in the age of digital media,” he said.

“These restrict intellectual property rights and their scope of exploitation with whomsoever one chooses to collaborate. It is economic sabotage writ large, directed against thousands of practitioners. Regulatory? This is strangulatory in effect!

“Several practitioners’ voices have been raised in protest. For one such insider’s detailed and passionate exposition on the deleterious provisions of this Code, I shall draw particular attention of policymakers to Chris Ihidero’s Why Does the NBC Want to Kill Local Content in Nigeria?

“If I may invoke a contemporary tragic image to render graphically what Ihidero and others have pleaded on behalf of both creators and consumers of this artistic productivity:

“Let government kindly take its knee off the neck of this industry. Please – let it breathe!”

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