Despite widespread stakeholder disapproval, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday, presented the 6th National Broadcasting Code recently released by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). Mohammed described the controversial document, presented at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, as “signed, sealed and delivered”.
Since May 17 when it was proposed by the NBC, industry stakeholders have been critical of many of its provisions, deemed draconian, with the NBC facing allegations of straying into areas over which it has no jurisdiction.
Considered most irksome by stakeholders are provisions seeking to regulate content exclusivity, mandate content sharing and empower the NBC to determine prices at which content is sold to sub-licensees by rights holders. Notable critics of the code include Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who described the code as “strangulatory” rather than regulatory; Jason Njoku, CEO of IrokoTV, who branded it as “quasi-socialism” and a means of subsidising inefficiency in the industry.
But fielding questions from journalists, Mohammed said the new code makes it mandatory for broadcasters to share content rights with competitors, claiming that it does not infringe on the copyright of right holders.
He also claimed that the prohibition of exclusivity is not new to Nigerian broadcasting. “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. “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,” said Mohammed.