Why media companies should not be taxed —Mursty Adinoyi
Mursty Adinoyi is a media entrepreneur and host-producer of popular TV programmes, Hitlist and Cruzin. He speaks with SEGUN ADEBAYO on the progress of the entertainment industry and The economic impact on the nation in this interview.
As a media entrepreneur, what are the peculiar challenges that you have faced?
The challenges are innumerable. For the programmes Hitlist and Cruzin, we always need to go out and look for winners to take on a cruise. The roads are so bad that a new car becomes unusable in no time. The money that is spent on fuel because of epileptic power supply can be used for something else. These are just few, among many, that I cannot begin to mention.
Given the reported high rate of emigration of entertainers and media entrepreneurs, do you plan to join the bandwagon?
You see, if your father’s house is not painted, instead of trying to rent an apartment, get money to paint it. That’s my belief. You can’t blame anyone for trying to look for greener pastures. Everybody deserves to live a good life, so one would naturally go to where one can enjoy life. Ideally, people should travel for the fun of it and come back, not to abandon Nigeria.But if we are not doing the right thing, people will be forced to leave because everyone wants to survive and get the best out of life.
What’s your dream for Nigeria?
As for those of us who still believe in the Nigerian dream, we have to contribute which is why I’m telling you the things that should be done. So,if those things aren’t done, we have to speak out like I’m doing, instead of leaving for Canada or anywhere in the world. I believe this country will develop faster if we enact policies that enable entrepreneurs to excel such that startups can absorb a lot of people which will drastically reduce the rate of unemployment.
What are your plans for this year 2020 that’s just starting off?
Actually, my plans are long term, not just for this year. In addition to our flagship programme, Hitlist and Cruzin, we have AIT Music+. We are also expanding the reach of Hitlist and Cruzin to other states, apart from the already enlisted states.
How does the recent tax increase affect the media business?
I’ll use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to overlook media companies for tax in Nigeria because local TV stations and independent producers are capable of employing more hands, but if the tax becomes overbearing for this sector, there’ll be struggle to sustain business, let alone expansion. I am also of the opinion that we need to put almost everything on TV as TV can help us to develop this country. For instance, a programmecan be created for army retirees. In fact, there are so many things we can (re)create on the TV. We see all these things on foreign channels and we think they are just for the foreign market. However, they are applicable to us.
Does your clamour for tax holiday for TV stations include cable television and others?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying tax-free for cable TV because it’s a paid for. For such paid television channels, a lot of money is being realized because people subscribe to watch. I’m speaking for terrestrial TV as some of them cannot even pay salaries of workers. The revenue of cable television does not even stay in the country and many of their staff are not even Nigerians. This is not the case for terrestrial televisionand heavy taxation could weaken their operations, with a possibility of workers’ lay-off. In the face of the recently implemented 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), I would suggest that the government pegs the VATfor media companies at 2.5 per cent. This would be an encouragement for all practitioners and should bring about development.
Do you then have a programme which addresses a lot of these issues you have raised?
Everybody talks about these issues. Therefore, I don’t expect much because even with the little action, they have been overflogged. Programmes like Kakaaki, Focus Nigeria on AIT and many more cater for these discussions, but are there positive reactions? No. There is no point then in adding to the myriad of existing programmes if there will be little effects.
How do you think development can be achieved?
Development, first, has to cut across.When you look at the scripture, light was the first thing God created. Light is important as it will enhance the growth of a lot of things across sectors. Our transportation needs expansion and the rail transport should be particularly developed to connect all the states. This will reduce the constant influx of people into Lagos. You can even stay in Kogi State and do your business and if you have to come to Lagos, you come by train. Two hours you’re in Lagos. Two hours you’re out of Lagos. There’ll be no congestion like we have in Lagos now. Above all, government policies should favour the media industry.