Sate Television, a Nigerian TV producer, has asked Sky TV UK, UK’s largest cable TV provider, to pay it £1 million within 21 days for alleged copyright infringement of Urban Kitchen its programme.
Remedium Law Partners, legal representative to Sate Television, in a statement also demanded N100 million from Solution Media and InfoTech Limited/Hi-Impact TV, a company registered in Nigeria and the UK, as compensation for allegedly “fraudulently broadcasting” Urban Kitchen “without due authorisation and permission” and another £250,000 for copyright violation.
Remedium is also demanding the airing of Urban Kitchen to stop immediately “until the formalisation of an agreement with Sate TV, producer of the TV programme and payment of an agreed Nigerian and UK prices for all twenty-six (26) episodes of the programme have been duly made.”
Sate Television through its lawyers claimed Solution Media and Infotech Limited/Hi-Impact TV started airing the said programme in Nigeria and in the UK “while negotiation between them for the authorisation of the programme was still on-going.”
Remedium also claimed that the agreement that was being negotiated was for the airing of the programme in Nigeria alone but Solution Media and Infotech Limited/Hi-Impact TV allegedly extended broadcast of the content to the United Kingdom “where Sky TV UK with millions of viewers globally has been airing the TV programme without the consent of the producer, Sate Television.”
In a letter dated May 18, 2020, Remedium claimed that one Andrew Ohio who was acting on behalf of Solution Media and Infotech Limited, owners of Hi-Impact TV, contacted its client, Sate Television, to express interest in Urban Kitchen.
“On 27th February 2020, our Client forwarded a Term Sheet containing their conditions for a License Agreement, stating among others the following: that the programme would consist of twenty-six (26) episodes of thirty minutes duration each; the license fee per episode would be eighty dollars ($80), making a total of two thousand and eighty dollars ($2,080); Nigeria would be the only broadcast territory; and that the programme was to be delivered to Hi-Impact Television for the express purpose of broadcasting or airing within seven (7) days payment via Wetransfer, an online document exchange medium.
“Following your request for preview copies for the purpose of ascertaining their quality and suitability for broadcast, our Client released the programme to you through your said agent, Mr. Ohio, doing so at Mr. Ohio’s insistence by merely copying the episodes from his computer hard-drive into a portable USB flash drive or electronic storage device,” the letter reads.
The law firm further claimed that while its client awaited the formalisation of the agreement, they realised that Hi-Impact television had already started airing Urban Kitchen in Nigeria and in the UK via Sky TV.
“Our Client did not at any time give permission, authorisation or consent to Hi-Impact Television to broadcast Urban Kitchen, whether in Nigeria or anywhere else. Note that even though on 2nd March, 2020, your Head of Programmes, Abiola Adelanwa, signed a unilaterally altered version of the draft agreement, our Client declined to counter-sign it. Moreover, they had not paid the agreed price and our Client has not delivered the episodes for the purpose of broadcast,” the law firm claimed.
When PREMIUM TIMES, reached for comment, Hi-Impact TV said they were surprised by the turn of event as the agreement to procure the TV show was concluded with Sate Television before it was aired.
“The transaction had been concluded and we did not understand why there was a copyright infringement claim,” the company said in an email.
The company shared a copy of an agreement signed by Andrew Ohionrenoya, the CEO of EIC Communication, who claimed to be the content producers of “Urban Kitchen” granting Impact TV the right to air the programme.
NBC’s Broadcasting Code Strangulatory – Wole Soyinka
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.
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!”
Controversial Broadcasting Code Tears NBC Board, Management Apart
The board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has insisted the controversial sixth edition of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code must be reviewed.
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.
COVID-19: FG Grants 60% Debt Relief to Broadcast Stations
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.
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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