Political broadcasting, anti-competitive behaviour, others top amendments in reviewed broadcasting code

Saner ways of disseminating political broadcasting, sterner sanctions for hate speech and stricter checks on anti-competitive behaviours form the highlights of the reviewed Code of Broadcasting, unveiled recently by the National Broadcasting Commission  (NBC).

For instance, unlike the 5th Code, erring broadcast stations, especially those found to contravene the provisions on hate speech, are now expected to pay a fine of N5 million in the new code; a clear departure from the N500,000 stipulated by the commission in the previous code.

Besides the sterner sanction for purveyors of hate speech, prohibition of exclusive use of rights by broadcasters, with the intention of monopolizing the entire market segment, remains another industry-shaking provision contained in the new code.

The reviewed code would also no longer  allow for a backlog of advertising debts so as to promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content.

Another highpoint of the code is the  law on registration of web broadcasting, which  grants the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm her citizenry.

While unveiling the reviewed code in Lagos, recently, the Acting Director General of the Commission, Professor Armstrong Idachaba, argued that the new reviewed code had become imperative to enable the Commission to properly regulate broadcasting in Nigeria.

He noted that certain provisions, in the previous code, had become outdated and could no longer help the agency in its day-to-day regulation of the space.

Also speaking on the new code, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Moahmmed explained that 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 National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the elections.

He added that some of the provisions were not entirely new, noting that the issue of  exclusivity was  once disallowed in the history of  the nation’s  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.

“Sub-licensing and rights sharing create opportunities for local operators to also gain traction and raise revenue for their services,” he added.

 

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