The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government is not destroying the broadcasting ecosystem with the amendments made to the National Broadcasting Code.
The minister said this while reacting to criticisms in certain quarters that some of the amendments in the code would be counter-productive and prevent foreign direct investment in the sector.
Mohammed who appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship interview programme, NANForum, on Thursday said the code was amended to drive the process of Digital Switch Over (DSO), promote local contents and protect the interest of Nigerians.
He said those accusing government of destroying the ecosystem are `dishonest and selfish.”
“These are people that because they have superior technology or more money, they want to maximise to the fullest the exclusivity and anti-competitive domination they had before now.
“But we want to open up the market and protect the interest of the larger public.
“There is nowhere in the world where they do not protect their people and anywhere where there is a conflict between public interest and private interest, public interest always prevails.
“What we are trying to prevent is a monopoly but it is painful that some of those we are fighting for are abusing us because they have failed to read the amendments,’’ he said.
Mohammed explained that the amendments were aimed at promoting local content, improving advertising revenue and creating level playing ground for all stakeholders.
He said the amendments were also aimed at breaking monopolistic tendency in the sector and making the DSO a viable proposition for all the stakeholders.x
Specifically, he said the amended code forbids exclusivity to the effect that stations that buy rights for premium content like English Premier League or Laliga and show it live must also allow others do the same.
He said the code was also amended to the effect that a station cannot warehouse content or buy content to the exclusion of others and keep it.
The amendment, he said equally states that “advertisement of product and services during prime foreign sports contents shall not be broadcast unless the advertiser equally sponsors or advertises such product and services in the broadcast of prime local sports content in the same category.”
“No prime foreign sports content shall be transmitted in Nigeria territory unless the owner of such content has also acquired prime local sport content in the same category with a minimum of 30 per cent cost of the foreign content.
“If you spent N100 million to acquire a foreign sports content, it will not be transmitted on any Nigerian channel unless you spend 30 per cent of that same amount of money in promoting the local league.
“This is a way to develop our local league and ensure it is watched by many,’’ he said.
Mohammed said the code was also amended to the effect that any advertisement to be shown or aired in Nigeria must be produced in the country.
If otherwise, the minister said, the advertiser would pay a surcharge of N100,000 each time the advert is shown on any local channel.
He said the money realised from the surcharge would be paid into a Local Content Development Fund part of which would be used to help young artists and content producers as well as assist budding Tv stations.
“Broadcast stations must also ensure that during their prime time, not less than 60 per cent of their programmes must be local contents.
“For a programme to qualify as local content, it must be authored, produced and directed by Nigerians and 75 per cent of the cast must be Nigerians.
“Also, 75 per cent of the expenditure for production and post-production must be spent in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Mohammed said because advertisement on TV stations is driven by “eyeballs,” an Audience Measurement System which scientifically generates data on how many people are watching a particular station or programme at a particular time had been evolved.
He said an Audience Measurement Council which would help in rating broadcast stations would also be in place.
The minister said a platform would also be set up whereby if an advertiser is owing to a TV station and fails to pay within 60 days, such advertiser will be barred.
“This is the best way to empower the stations and content producers and we have done all these to ensure local content is protected,’’ he said.
The minister enjoined stakeholders in the sector to look at the provisions of the amended code and take advantage of them to develop the industry.