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FG Cannot Subsidize Television Forever- Lai Mohammed

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Federal government has said that it cannot continue to subsidise television forever but will work with relevant stakeholders to design right policy framework and create sustainable ecosystem for the industry.

FG Cannot Subsidize Television Forever- Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the virtual inauguration of the Task Team on Audience Measurement.

“Currently, government is subsidising the signal distribution because the channels cannot pay for the carriage of their stations by the licensed Signal Distributors, who have invested in equipment and transmission.

“Things cannot continue like this. Government cannot continue to subsidise television forever, hence we must create a sustainable ecosystem,” he said.

The minister noted that Audience Measurement is the missing link in the entire broadcasting ecosystem.

Audience measurement, according to Wikipedia, “measures how many people are in an audience, usually in relation to radio listenership and television viewership…”

He said the broadcast industry needs an Audience Measurement system that will encourage investment, mainly through increased advertising spend driven by confidence in the Audience Ratings data.

He said increase in advertising revenue will in turn encourage current and prospective channel owners to create additional television channels necessary for the success of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

“We need an objective and scientific Audience Measurement System that articulates the value of the content to consumers, as well as the value of the audience to advertisers, particularly in the television sector. “The absence of a world class measurement regime has resulted in under-investment in the sector, which is necessary to foster the growth of the industry.

“This is because the advertising community continues to rely on subjective factors when making decisions on the content they want, as opposed to how many viewers the content truly attracts,” he said.

The minister said the consequence of  lack of scientific audience measurement system is that television platforms are subjected to renting out space on their channels to sustain their businesses.

He added that content producers are also at the mercy of sponsors which, unfortunately, skews the authenticity of their creative output in favour of a few decision makers, instead of the millions of TV viewers.

He stressed that the existing model will never enable Nigeria’s creative industry to reach its full potential.

The minister said the value of Nigeria’s Broadcast Advertising Market is not proportional to the country’s population, when compared to the Top 3 Markets in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Despite having a population more than three times that of South Africa, Nigeria’s Television Advertising Revenue in 2016 was 309 million Dollars compared to that of South Africa, which was 1.301 billion Dollars.

“It is imperative that we urgently put in place an Industry Framework that will ensure that content producers receive their just due for the value of the content they create.

“We must also provide objective guarantees to the Advertising community on their Return-On-Investment on media placements.

“This will then have the overall effect of guaranteeing greater spend by the Advertisers, who are all seeking to grow their market share,” he said.

The minister said with the right policy framework, the Nigerian TV advertisement market will grow two to three times its current size and generate additional 200 million dollars to 400 million dollars revenue to the industry.

He therefore charged the committee of industry experts to help solve the Audience Measurement issue in the country once and for all.

He said the Terms of Reference of the committee included to identify best practice Audience Measurement System that will support the sustainable growth of the Nigeria Creative Industry.

The committee is to recommend a Framework for supporting the sustainability of the Audience Measurement System, independent of the federal government;

The committee is also to recommend a Payment and Disbursement Framework among the key stakeholders in the industry.

The members of the Task Team, which has six weeks to submit its report, are Alhaji Garba Kankarofi as Chairman and Mr Joe Mutah as Secretary. Other members are Mr Obi Asika, Hajiya Sa’aa Ibrahim, Mr Mahmoud Ali Balogun, Mrs Pauline Ehusani and Mr Tolu Ogunkoya. Responding on behalf of other members, Kankarofi thanked the minister for their appointments and assured that they would engage every sector of the industry to come up with good report.

 


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NBC’s Broadcasting Code Strangulatory – Wole Soyinka

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Wole Soyinka, playwright and Nobel laureate, has said that the amended 6th broadcasting code by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is economic sabotage writ large, directed against thousands of practitioners.

NBC’s Broadcasting Code Strangulatory – Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

In a statement, Soyinka said it is better for the government to admit its war on “arts and its producers instead of its tactics of slowly weakening the sector”.

The NBC had reviewed some parts of the broadcasting code which affect content producers on web/online media.

This has generated different reactions, with the Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) calling for the suspension of the implementation of the amended code.

Some stakeholders, who have also called for the suspension of the implementation of the code, said the new broadcasting code place unfair and unrealistic burdens on the industry and would affect the development of the sector.

Soyinka said after reading excerpts from the newly proposed NBC broadcasting code, he discovered some “potentially dangerous aspects of the code”.

“I think it is about time the government come out openly and admit that it has declared war against the Arts and its producers, instead of its present tactics of piecemeal attrition,” Soyinka said.

“Just when we were reeling from the action of the Ministry of Youth and Development in joining hands with book pirates by providing a free-loading portal for the works of Nigerian authors, among others, along comes a new regulatory hit against the cinema and video enterprise, and its operators.

“Let me quickly utilise the opening of this new flank to commend the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for his prompt attention to the complaint by Nigerian authors.”

He added that some of the regulations restrict intellectual property rights with who they choose to work with.

Noting that the new code will place unfair burden on the sector, he, therefore, asked the government to desists from stifling the industry.

“And now it is the turn of a sister industry to be placed under siege! I have just read excerpts of the newly proposed NBC broadcasting code and become aware of some potentially dangerous aspects of the code. Whilst one concedes that some of the regulations are well-intentioned, I shudder to imagine unintended consequences such as backhanded censorship in the age of digital media,” he said.

“These restrict intellectual property rights and their scope of exploitation with whomsoever one chooses to collaborate. It is economic sabotage writ large, directed against thousands of practitioners. Regulatory? This is strangulatory in effect!

“Several practitioners’ voices have been raised in protest. For one such insider’s detailed and passionate exposition on the deleterious provisions of this Code, I shall draw particular attention of policymakers to Chris Ihidero’s Why Does the NBC Want to Kill Local Content in Nigeria?

“If I may invoke a contemporary tragic image to render graphically what Ihidero and others have pleaded on behalf of both creators and consumers of this artistic productivity:

“Let government kindly take its knee off the neck of this industry. Please – let it breathe!”


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Controversial Broadcasting Code Tears NBC Board, Management Apart

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The board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has insisted the controversial sixth edition of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code must be reviewed.

Controversial Broadcasting Code Tears NBC Board, Management Apart

The board had penultimate Friday placed advertisements in some national newspapers calling on aggrieved stakeholders in the broadcasting and entertainment industries to submit position papers on the amended code, according to Daily Trust.

But the NBC, in another advert signed by its acting Director-General, last Monday, had asked Nigerians to disregard the earlier one put out by the board.

However, , Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, chairman, NBC board, told journalists in Abuja that it was wrong for the NBC’s top management staff to say the advert placed by the board had no official endorsement of the commission.

Bilbis, who alleged that some ministry officials were setting the NBC’s top management staff against the commission’s board, said protocols were being breached by the officials in their oversight of the broadcast regulatory agency.

He said as much the board agreed that Section 6 of the NBC Act conferred on the minister the power to give directives of a general character to the commission, the Act “however does not infer that the honourable minister can substitute the board by usurping the functions of the same board.”

He said there had never been a time in the history, tradition and conventions of the NBC when a presidential approval was needed for a review of the broadcasting code. He wondered why top management of NBC would choose not to listen to stakeholders who were shut out during the amendment.

Reacting, Mr Amstrong Idachaba, acting director-general, NBC, said that the commission “carried all the stakeholders along during the amendment’’.

Idachaba alleged that a stakeholder, who is a foreign company, was behind the campaign against the amended code. He said the company was kicking against the code because it erroneously believed that it would weaken its monopoly and brought Nigerian companies up to the same level as it.

“This is not so. Rather it would even give them more reach and more money”, he said.

 


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COVID-19: FG Grants 60% Debt Relief to Broadcast Stations

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Federal government has approved 60 percent debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations in the country to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the industry, according to Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture.

COVID-19: FG Grants 60% Debt Relief to Broadcast Stations

Lai Mohammed

Mohammed,, announced this in Abuja at a media briefing on the government’s efforts to institute financial sustainability among broadcast stations in the country.

He noted that the broadcast industry had been particularly hard-hit due to falling revenues occasioned by the dwindling adverts and sponsored programmes in the wake of the pandemic.

Mohammed, disclosed that many Nigerian radio and television stations remained indebted to the government to the tune of N7. 8 billion while many of them were faced with the reality that their licenses would not be renewed in view of their indebtedness.

“Against this background, the management of the NBC has recommended, and the Federal Government has accepted 60 per cent debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations in the country,” he said.

Mohammed, however, said the criterion for enjoying the debt forgiveness was for debtor stations to pay 40 per cent of their existing debt within the next three months

According to him, any station that is unable to pay the balance of 40 percent indebtedness within the three months window shall forfeit the opportunity to enjoy the stated debt forgiveness.

The minister said the government also approved that the existing license fee of the broadcast stations be further discounted by 30 per cent for all Open Terrestrial Radio and Television services effective July 10.

He said the debt forgiveness would apply to functional licensed Terrestrial Radio and Television stations only

“The debt forgiveness and discount shall not apply to pay TV service operators in Nigeria.

“The effective date of the debt forgiveness shall be July 10 to October 6th, 2020,” he said.

Mohammed said the measures were in addition to the two-month licence-fee waiver granted to terrestrial broadcast stations in the country by the NBC, as part of efforts to ease the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He gave an assurance that the measures taken by the government would give lifeline and revamp the Industry as well as help reposition it for the challenges of business in the post-COVID-19 era.

“The Federal Government has made these interventions with a view to re-positioning the broadcast industry to play its critical role of promoting democracy and good governance in Nigeria.

“It is our expectation that the sector will cash in on this unique opportunity to make itself an effective catalyst for national development,” he said.

Speaking on efforts to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the creative sector in general, the minister recalled that government set up the Post-Covid-19 Initiatives Committee for the creative industry,

He said the committee had submitted its report, which contained recommendations that would benefit all component parts of the larger creative industry.

Fielding questions from newsmen, the minister said similar measures would be extended to the print industry by the government.

Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) , said the commission is carrying out holistic review of the broadcast sector as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Idachaba, who was also at the briefing, said the government would enforce the Pay as You Go directive to the Pay-Tv because it was in the interest of all.


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