Many Africans have joined voices with innovators and internet broadcast content creators in Nigeria to strongly condemn the recently amended National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code released to “make provision for local content, increased advertising revenue, and restriction of monopolistic behaviour in the broadcast industry”.
The Commission has by this Amendment, laid down unfavorable conditions and requirements for the just budding PayTV Industry in Nigeria; placing unfair and unrealistic burdens on local content producers and by extension, the economy. While we’re yet to get an official definition from the Commission for ‘Web/Online Broadcasting’, it is clear from the new provisions that certain clauses will affect the development of the sector.
The compulsion to prevent exclusive rights to content on PayTV platforms is archaic and regressive, to say the least. Apart from it being a blatant affront to the freedom of copyright holders to use and license their work as they wish, it also chokes innovation in the streaming television business.
Furthermore, the NBC mandates that all persons wishing to operate web/online broadcasting services in Nigeria must register with the Commission. However, there is no public record of the Commission’s consultation with these stakeholders in making these amendments.
The internet space in Nigeria is developing and innovation is to be encouraged. However, policies like this can greatly discourage the development of technology and technology-based services thereby creating an unfavorable environment for the kind economic growth that is relevant in this age.
Especially with the new realities faced by Nigeria as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, government policies should not only desist from hampering nascent technologies but must in fact, encourage and incentivize same. The amendments to the NBC Code do not incentivize innovation in the broadcast and television industry and therefore, all stakeholders need to join voices and call upon the NBC to re-engage its process of amendment by opening dialogue between itself and the key stakeholders who would be affected by these policy directions.
The NBC need to seek policies that will incentivize and not punish local content creation and technology service delivery in the broadcast industry so as to encourage innovation in the technology service industry.
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