The Federal Government on Tuesday unveiled the new amendment to the 6th Edition of the Broadcasting Code, stressing that it will not yield to blackmail by a segment of the stakeholders opposed to the new code.
Performing the ceremony in Lagos, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that the amended code was in the national interest and government would kick start its implementation.
“As it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria.
“What I have observed in the reactions to the amendment are interests who believe that their singular business interest is superior to the national interest.
“Therefore, they have resorted to all kinds of blackmail, using hack writers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we remain unperturbed, because we are acting in the national interest,” he said.
The minister reiterated that the intentions of government in effecting the amendment was to catalyze the growth of the local industry and create jobs for the teeming creative youths.
“The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of attaining this. That is why we will not waver” he said
Mohammed noted that the broadcasting code is not a static document, therefore those who have misgivings about the amended code should meet with the regulator and present their views for considerations in subsequent amendment.
“As I said, there are opportunities for constant review of the Code, but please note that this latest amendment is signed, sealed and delivered, and we are committed to making it work for the good of the country,” he said.
The minister recalled that the amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive, for inquiry into the unwholesome conduct of some broadcast stations in the wake of the 2019 general elections.
He said that government equally saw the need to strengthen the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to effectively perform it’s regulatory roles.
Mohammed said the amendments are mostly in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising and anti-competitive behaviour.
He explained that provisions relating to exclusivity and monopoly in the code would boost local content and local industry as well as encourage open access to premium contents.
“Sub-licensing and Rights sharing create opportunities for local operators to also gain traction and raise revenue for their services.
“The law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts will definitely promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content.
“The law on registration of Web Broadcasting grants the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm us as a nation.
“Such harms could be in the area of security, protection for minors, protection of human dignity, economic fraud, privacy,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Acting Director-General of NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba appreciated the government for implementing measures for effective functioning of the broadcast industry in the country.
He commended the minister for implementing reforms in the sector, laudable intervention to assist practitioners as well as refocusing and repositioning the Digital Switch Over programme.