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FG Mandates Review of National Broadcasting Codes

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect stiffer penalties for violators of broadcasting regulations.

The President has also endorsed the implementation of reforms to end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualisation of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja while inaugurating the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Reform Implementation Committee.

Specifically, the minister said that the President approved the upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5 million for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.

He said the President also approved that wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station should attract suspension of license.

The minister said Buhari also approved the upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.

Other approvals by the President according to the minister are: “Amendments of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTv and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria.

“Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC, at the moment, there are only about 200 Staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and television stations.

“Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC and enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their compromise in the line of duty’.

The President, according to the minister, said that the reviewed code must also ensure the Independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.

Mohammed said the decisions were sequel to the deliberations at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of March 27, on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general elections.

” The President directed me to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the Council.

“Consequently, I inaugurated a five-member committee on Wednesday, April 10th 2019 with the following terms of reference:

“To find out to what extent the NBC was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general elections.

“Recommend measures that could strengthen the NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.

“The committee submitted its report on April 24th 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded the report to Mr. President, who has since approved them,” he said.

The minister, therefore charged the reform implementation committee to carry out a thorough job that will re-position the NBC as an effective and efficient regulator.

‘We are now at the implementation stage, hence I have appointed seven ‘wise’ men and woman to design the framework for the implementation,” he said.

The minister said that the terms of reference of the committee included the implementation of the recommendations of the committee on the NBC reforms as approved by the President.

He said the committee should immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory frameworks for further legislative action on the review of the NBC Act by the National Assembly.

The minister tasked the committee to immediately establish and publicize a new sanctioning, fines and penalty regime that is in line with international best practice,.

He said the new penalty regime would also help to promote professionalism and serve as a deterrent to erring practitioners against misconduct, especially hate speech, violence and spread of fake news.

Mohammed tasked the committee to establish and publish a new regulation for the licensing of Web and Internet broadcasters/International broadcasters in Nigeria.

He said the committee should immediately assess and propose equipment, materials and training needed to make the NBC a modern and well-positioned regulator.

‘The committee should liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the provision of the manpower needs of the Commission to enable it function optimally.

“It should work out the modalities for competitive and reasonable salaries, wages and other welfare needs of the staff of the Commission.

“Establish necessary protocols for the establishment or appointment of professionals or technocrats (non-partisan personality) to run the agency, and appointment into the board of the NBC.”

The minister also directed the committee to end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.

The minister gave the committee chaired by Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, Director of Monitoring of the NBC, six weeks to submit its report.

Other members of the committee are, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, Acting Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON),

Mr Agbo Ndubuisi, Board Member, NBC and Mr J.K. Ehicheoya, Director, Legal Services in the Ministry.

Others are, Hajia Binta Bello, Secretary, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria Mr. Ibrahim Jimoh, Director of Administration, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria and Mr. Joe Mutah, Chief Press Secretary to the minister who will serve as the Secretary.


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CBN Says Claims of N2,000, N5,000 Banknotes in Circulation Fake

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Sunday, denied videos and pictures of the purported circulation of N2, 000 and N5,000 banknotes in the country.

CBN Says Claims of N2,000, N5,000 Banknotes in Circulation Fake

The apex bank in a tweet via the official Twitter handle are warned false and fake.

CBN called on Nigerians to disregard claims of such banknotes and urged members of the public to report anyone found in possession of such to law enforcement agencies.

Recall that in 2013, the CBN under the leadership of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had said it was going to introduce a N5,000 banknote into the country.

Recently, the social media was abuzz after aman reportedly visited a bank and deposited the sum of N17m with yet to be designed or released N5000 and N2000 naira notes.

In accompany video, a lady could be heard in the clip, revealing how the man stormed the bank with the bundle of new 5000 and 2000 naira notes to deposit it.

 

 

 


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Coalition of Nigeria Consumers Kick against Multichoice over Proposed Price Hike

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A Coalition of Nigeria Consumers has expressed concerns over the recent announcement by Multichoice Nigeria Limited, providers of Digital Satellite Television services on (DStv and GOtv) platforms, that it will increase its subscription price from June 1.

Coalition of Nigeria Consumers Kick against Multichoice over Proposed Price Hike

This was contained in a petition sent to the director-general of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) through the F. S Onifade & Associates titled “powers of the commission to regulate price: abuse of power of dominace in markets and impending price hike by multichoice/dstv in Nigeria.”

Festus Onifade, managing partner at the F.S Onifade & Associates said the petition was anchored on “Power of Abuse of Dominance” as provided for in new law FCCPC Act 2018 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in February, 2019 which is prohibited under Section 72 of the FCCP Act.

The Act empowers the FCCC to fix and regulate prices of goods and services where such infractions have been brought to the notice of the Commission.

According to the petition, the increment plans by the company citing the increase in VAT rate as the reason, makes it the third time in a period of five years despite court injunctions against similar increment which was not obeyed.

It, therefore, called on the Commission to under law and new identity save the Nigeria consumer from another oppressive private monopoly, noting that out of about 14.56 million subscribers on across Africa, Nigeria alone has 40% of this numbers as at 2019 making her the largest and leading satellite TV service provider in Nigeria.

“You will recall that Mutilchoice Nigeria Limited had recently announced that it will be increasing its rates for DStv and GOtv subscribers from 1st June, 2020, citing the increase in VAT rate as the reason for this imminent price increment.

“Our client also noted with grave concerns that apart from the pattern of (content recycling) of repetitive films and programmes; many local TV Channels which ought to be free are paid for by Nigeria consumers as opposed to the practice of enjoying free local TV Channels in other part of the world.

“Worst still is that with a monthly premium subscription rate of about N16, 000 our client and Nigerian consumers are greatly surcharge. This is because with an average of 720 hours per month, an average view is about six hours per day. If usage is converted to hourly basis this same amount will give a consumer four months value. Hence, we advocate ‘pay as you use.’


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COVID-19: NBC Fines 3 Radio Stations over False Claims

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National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has fined three stations over broadcast of invariable content on COVID-19 and also sanctioned 28 others for other violations against the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

COVID-19: NBC Fines 3 Radio Stations over False Claims

Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of NBC, at a press briefing in Abuja, said the three stations fined were Adaba FM and Breeze FM, all in Akure, as well as Albarka FM, Ilorin.

He said that the stations  were fined N250,000 each for broadcasting invariable claims and misleading information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBC boss further stated that 28 other stations were sanctioned for violation of the code in areas bordering on hate speech, obscenity, technical breach, advertisement, invariable claims and unprofessionalism.

“All the stations have been either queried or sanctioned according to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code

” The commission wishes to, again, re-emphasise that all broadcasters must adhere strictly to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and National Broadcast Act CAP N11 Laws of the Federation, 2004,”Idachaba said.

On reforms by the NBC, Idachaba said the amendment of the sixth edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari made provisions for local content in the broadcast industry.

According to him, it also makes provision for increased advertising revenue for local broadcast stations and content producers.

“It also creates restrictions for monopolistic and anti competitive behavior in the broadcast industry. It further makes provision for responsibility for broadcast stations during national emergencies.

” I am glad that the work is ready now, and the commission has published the provisions of the amendment of the code,” he said.

On Digital Switch Over (DSO), the NBC boss explained that the commission was considering a new licence free regime and broadcast signal distributors carriages fees for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) operators

“The new rates would affect National Free-view DTT, Rational Free-view DTT and Local Free-view DTT.

” The committee expects all licenced DTT operators to commence payment of the new fees which is lower than the fees in the analogue era.

“However, very important progressive  steps are being taken for the actualisation of the DSO.

“There have been several online meetings with various players and stakeholders in the digital ecosystem.

” We have concluded plans for a new timeline, indicating new cities where we are moving to and the details will be released once the lock down is fully eased,” he said.

He called on all broadcasters and workers in the media industry to stay safe in the face of the raging pandemic.


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