The federal government yesterday raised the fine for hate speech offenders from N500,000 to N5 million.
Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in his remarks at the unveiling ceremony organised by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in Lagos.
Mohammed also clarified 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 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 the national interest over the provisions of the amended Code, that the federal government remains unperturbed.
Unveiling the reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code, which contains the Antitrust provision, Alhaji Mohammed the Antitrust provision would boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves.
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 that Multichoice sub-licensed 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,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said the revised Code contains the law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts in order to promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content, as well as the law on the registration of Web Broadcasting, which will grant the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm the nation.
“The provisions on the 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 a time of national emergencies like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, for their education and enlightenment,” the minister said.
Alhaji Mohammed explained that the 6th edition and the amendments remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria.
He said the federal government’s intention was for 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.
On his part, the acting director-general of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba commended the present administration for showing keen interest in the development of the broadcasting industry through the implementation of reforms and several other interventions.
The event was attended by officials of NBC and other stakeholders in the broadcasting industry.