The federal government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this Tuesday while unveiling the Reviewed Broadcasting Code.
He had earlier last year announced the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the increase of the fine. The increase has now been stipulated in the reviewed broadcasting code.
The code also contains the Antitrust provision aimed at boosting local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who, according to the minister, intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves.
According to a statement signed by special assistant to the President, Segun Adeyemi, the Antitrust provision would also encourage open access to premium content.
He said the revised code also 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.
”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 Multichoice sub-licensing 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.
“The provisions on 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 time of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment,” the minister said.
Mr Mohammed 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 national interest, over the provisions of the amended code, the federal government remains unperturbed,
“But, as it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria. Our intention remains 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,” he said.
In his remark, the Acting Director General of the NBC, Armstrong Idachaba, commended the government for showing interest in the development of the Broadcasting Industry through the implementation of reforms and several other interventions.