The Federal Government on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, announced the increase of fine for hate speech from N500 to N5 million.
The announcement was made 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) in Lagos on Tuesday.
This new regulation is part of the amended Nigerian Broadcasting Code which contains Antitrust provision aimed at boosting local content and encouraging the growth of the local industry, among other provisions.
This disclosure is contained in a press statement that was issued by the Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of the Minister for Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi.
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The Minister said that the Antitrust provision will boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves. The provision will also open access to premium content.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, ‘’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.”
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In a bid the protect broadcast stations and promote sustainability for the station owners and content producers, the revised code contains law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts. It also contains law on the registration of Web Broadcasting, which will grant the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can be harmful to the country.
Going further the minister also said, ‘’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.”
He revealed that the review of the broadcasting was done in the national interest as it was necessitated by the Presidential directive in the wake of the 2019 general elections, which sought for an inquiry into the regulatory role of NBC.
The Minister also disclosed that President Buhari had ordered the probe of the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the polls.
Mohammed also pointed out, ‘’But, as it currently stands, 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. 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.”
It can be recalled that in a bid to stem the tide of rising cases of hate speech and fake news, the Federal Government moved to introduce the fake news and hate speech bill, which they said creates apprehension, a lot of mistrust and divides the country along ethnic and religious lines.
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Stakeholders and the general public were very critical of the bill because of some harsh clauses in the bill which includes the death penalty.