The Federal Government has increased the fine for Hate speech from N500 thousand to N5 million, in a new bid to curb the use of hate speech in the country.
The increase was announced by the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the unveiling ceremony of the revised National Broadcasting Code by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Tuesday.
The increase in hate speech fine comes after the revived social media bill which includes fines for false information was stalled after a public hearing.
With the new fine, the government is trying another method to regulate the use of social media in the country.
The new code is a revised edition of the old NBC code. The code contains measures aimed at controlling content in the industry, Antitrust provision aimed at boosting local content, encouraging the growth of the local industry among others.
According to the minister, the review was carried out according to Presidential directive in the wake of the 2019 general elections, which sought for an inquiry into the regulatory role of NBC.
Speaking on the new code, Mohammed explained that the amendments and provision were for the good of the country.
‘’Currently, 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. “Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture
He added that “we need to catalyze 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.”
Ban on Exclusive Content
Despite protests against the revised NBC code by stakeholders in the sector, the FG has gone ahead to unveil the new code. A major point of contention in the new NBC code is the part that makes content exclusivity illegal. This bit of regulation compels content sub-licensing and also aims to control the prices at which content is sub-licensed.
According to the CEO of iROKOtv, Jason Njoku, the implementation of such provisions in the NBC code will destroy PayTV services in Nigeria.
Jason’s claim isn’t without basis as exclusive content is one of the main marketing points that drive user growth and competition in PayTV in Nigeria. For example, DSTV’s exclusive African contents like Big Brother Naija and exclusive sports contents like the EPL are major reasons why they are the largest satellite TV in the country.
However, the Minister said that the ban against exclusivity is not new in Nigeria. He added that Antitrust provision is only in place to prevent exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and boost local content and local industry.
‘’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.”Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture
Although many stakeholders are against the new code, it has some provisions that can benefit them. The revised code contains a law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts. The law helps broadcasting stations collect fees owed for advertising quickly and also protect and promote the sustainability for the station owners and content producers.
Some other laws in the new code include registration of Web Broadcasting, which will grant the NBC the opportunity to regulate foreign broadcast companies and the allocation of time for national emergencies.
While Jason believes allocating 20% of broadcasting time weekly for an emergency is like giving personal time to the government, the minister believes its a responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies.
‘’The provisions on the 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.”Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture
Although the FG has not revealed when the new code will be fully implemented, when it finally does, there will be a major shakeup in the broadcasting industry. Already, global streaming service providers, Netflix, Amazon and popular DSTV channel Africa Magic are considering halting further investments in the Nigerian content industry.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!