The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government amended the National Broadcasting Code to provide a level playing ground for all stakeholders in the industry to thrive.
Mohamed made the clarification on Thursday in Abuja when he featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship interview programme, NANForum.
He explained that the administration tinkered with the code in a manner that would make contents to be qualitative and the entire broadcasting ecosystem profitable.
The minister explained that with the removal of exclusivity rights, the code had stopped the hitherto monopolistic system that did not allow the indigenous companies to thrive.
“For instance, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) between 2015 and 2020 had licensed 30 paid TV companies in Nigeria. As we speak today, only one is struggling to survive, because the regulatory framework was such that they could not survive.
“The first thing we did was to amend Section 911 of the Code on compulsory acquisition and monopolistic access to premium contents.
“We said henceforth, if for example Multichoice or Startimes or any big company acquires the right to show any premium sports or news programme in Nigeria, it must retail it to other channels.
“In other words, if you use N10 million dollars to buy a programme and people are watching your channel, if other channels approach you for a lease upon an agreed fee, you must give them the right to show the popular programme.
“That is the only way you can ensure a level playing ground for everybody and bring down the cost of entry and operations. But as it was then whereby only Multichoice can show Premiership to the exclusion of others, it will not encourage competitiveness and growth in the industry,” Mohammed said.
Similarly, Mohammed said the government also amended Section 621 of the Code which deals with local contents.
He recalled that before now, the Code stipulated that between the prime hours of 7p.m. to 10p.m. whatever programme that was going to be shown within that time belt must have at least 60 per cent local content.
“But we saw that some people will go outside the country and make a film, include one or two Nigerians and claim it is local content.
“We now amended the Code to state that for a film to qualify as local content, it must be authored by a Nigerian, directed and produced by Nigerians, while 75 per cent of the lead actors and support cast must all be Nigerians. Equally, 75 per cent of the expenditure including post production and services must be consumed by Nigerians to empower local directors, producers and create more jobs in the process,’’ he said.
The minister said the Code was also amended to compel advertising companies to remit what they are owing to a broadcast station within 60 days.
He said if an advertising agency owes a channel for more than 60 days without payment, no other station must collect any advert from such advertising company.
The minister stressed that the amended Code was meant to promote local content, improve advertising revenue and create level playing ground for all stakeholders.