By Taiwo Okanlawon
Nigerian government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million, according to the amended Nigeria Broadcasting Code, which also contains an Antitrust provision.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known at the unveiling of the reviewed Code in Lagos on Tuesday.
The event was organised by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
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.
He said the Antitrust provision would also encourage open access to premium content.
”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,” Mohammed said.
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 registration of Web Broadcasting, which will grant the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm the nation.
“The provisions on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies…obviously mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at time of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment,” the Minister said.
Mohammed said 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 with a view to repositioning the regulator for optimum performance.
He said despite the attacks by some vested interests, who believe that their singular business interest is superior to national interest, over the provisions of the amended Code, the Federal Government remains unperturbed,
“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 catalyse 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,” the Minister said.
Acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, commended the Buhari administration for showing keen interest in the development of the Broadcasting Industry through the implementation of reforms and several other interventions.