Stakeholders divided over film, video censor bill

Major stakeholders in the movie and film industry were on Thursday divided over some provisions in the National Film and Video Censor Bill currently before the House of Representatives.

The stakeholders, who differed on some provisions which the proposed legislation is seeking, made their views known in Abuja, during the public hearing of a bill to repeal the National Film and Video Censor Act, sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Hon. Olusegun Dokun.

The legislation, among other things, seeks to repeal the National Films and Videos Censors Board Act and enact the National Films and Video Censorship Classification and Exhibition Regulatory Commission Act, to empower the agency for the classification and exhibition of video works, musical videos, videos games and other related matters.

In his presentation, the Executive Director of National Film and Video Censors Board, Mr Adedayo Thomas, said the Bill is a welcome development, as it has addressed the current challenges in the film industry.

He identified some additions, which were made to the bill, such as the issue of those who come into Nigeria market without proper channel and identification and the need to change the word censorship.

Thomas expressed optimism that all issues raised will be addressed by the lawmakers before the final presentation.

According to him, “In the first Act and in global trend, there has been no single change reflected to meet the present global issues in the film industry and this is quite welcome, we looked into the Bill, it’s quite thorough. Nigeria remains the only country in the world still using the word censorship, which is draconian so we prefer the word ‘Classified’ instead of ‘Censor’. The chairman, who’s sponsoring this bill, has been able to change that and it’s well appreciated. Soon, we will no longer be in the era of censorship.

“In terms of penalty, a couple of penalties which are still low, which we’ve changed. Please consider it that it becomes a state penalty for those stealing intellectual property right and again. The last one I want to mention has been the confusion between the previous bill between the governing board and the board itself and it’s being looked at administrative staff. Meanwhile it’s supposed to be NFVBC governing board, not NFVBC Board.”

Countering the ED’s submission, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP), Mr. Alex Eyengho, said the censors board has no association with Guilds and Association, hence should not have business with cinemas and the rest.

According to him, the primary function of the commission is to classify jobs presented to it and not to regulate in any form as contained in section 2H of the Act.

“This bill is about us and not censors board, we had demanded for this bill from the censors board but we were not granted, so we will need more time to state our position. Also, we in the industry are very strong of the opinion that we should have one major commission to regulate.

“The Censors Board, as recommended in the Oronsonye Committee, should be returned to the ministry and not to regulate. I hear the the Executive Director talking about regulating and that’s not their function. All they do is usurp the powers of their sister agencies. A situation where they go to Alaba International Market to raid is wrong and not contained in their extant laws,” Eyengho said.

On his part, the former President, National Association of Movie Producers, Mr Madu Chikwedu, proposed that the name should be motion picture commission, instead of national video censor board.

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