NBC Code: Amendments of the 6th edition

Credit: Lorelyn Medina — Fotolia

The Nigeria Broadcasting Code is a set of provisions, standards to monitor and ensure the compliance of all stakeholders in the Broadcast industry. Recently, an amendment was made to the 6th edition of the Code and was released on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

According to the Commission, the new amendments were meant to protect and promote the local broadcast industry from monopolistic and anti/competitive behavior. To increase advertising revenue for local broadcasting stations and content producers in the Broadcast industry in Nigeria

The new amendments, however, have been received with a lot of complaints from a handful of the stakeholders, tagging it unenforceable. In my opinion, there won’t be a need for an ironclad amendment dubbed for promoting equity for local content and local content producers if all the stakeholders over time have displayed fairness and equity in local content production and distribution. In the past, broadcasters struck deals in ways that profited a few and not in the interest of many, all stating the strength of negotiating power. Broadcasters hold licenses for different programs, sometimes over a cluster of countries without sub-licensing it to the local broadcasters, which guaranteed revenue for them but also creates an unfair advantage in the process. This unfair market advantage over other local broadcasters is what led to the provisions in this new amendment. The amendment is meant to increase the competitiveness of local content, but some say it has finally eroded the said competitiveness. Broadcasting is dynamic, and so is the challenge of putting regulations around it.

Let’s have a quick dive into the new provisions that are worthy of note and some of the analysis:

Under Web/Online Broadcasting:

The question here is, whether the commission categorizes Youtube, IG and other social sites, podcasts, and internet radio as part of the broadcasting channels that are required to register as a broadcaster with the commission.

Under this same section — International Broadcast Signals (code 2.12.8)

It is safe to say this section covers for internet radio and others but what is unclear is the extent to which they will have observe the Nigerian broadcast laws.

Definition of local content

This is what classifies a program as local content.

Under Sport Right

This provision breaks the kind of deal Multichoice has been making over the years with the various European football leagues which discourage local participation in obtaining sports rights.

Separating the rights for the different platforms will give a fair playing ground for broadcasters on all platforms and will not make the price of acquiring the rights be unduly pressured by big players on other platforms.

What worthy of note here is, no broadcaster will have the exclusive right to broadcast sport or acquiring the rights without using them.

The only challenge with this provision is that it assumes the availability of various categories of local sports content and in good quality to have justified the purchase for not less than 30% of the cost of foreign sports content.

Under Wholesale Offer [code 9.1.8]

The commission, however, in order to invoke the power in this section will make an assessment whether competitors can create an alternative service or effectively supply, which would be capable to be disposed in the downstream market.

Under National Emergencies

A new provision on a mandatory allotment for national emergencies has been made. It states that .

As much as this amendment seems like an affront on broadcasters in the Nigerian Broadcast industry, it must be seen for what it is, it opens the market up for local participation in the industry and if the commission does not use its power to overly subdue broadcasters to its whims, the outcome will have a lot of good effect on the industry and the economy as a whole.

Demilade Onajobi

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