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Copyright Commission warns cable operators against broadcast piracy

By Ransome Ngbeahuru
13 October 2019   |   3:21 am
Though Nigeria has a relatively strong copyright law, and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) takes its mandate seriously through its many commendable programmes...

The Director-General of NCC, Mr. John Asein

Though Nigeria has a relatively strong copyright law, and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) takes its mandate seriously through its many commendable programmes, however, efficient enforcement of copyright is a critical element in enabling the future development of Nigeria’s creative industries.

Many have argued that the protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property rights is pivotal to the development of the creative industry.

Industry watchers have argued that enforcement of intellectual property rights in Nigeria should be greatly facilitated as this will further improve the country’s image abroad, develop confidence in the Nigerian investment climate, and increase the inflow of business activities to the country.

So, when NCC reiterated its mandate to enforce broadcast rights in the country just as it tasked licensed cable operators in Nigeria to respect the protected signals of broadcasting organisations, in line with the copyright law and global best practices, many applauded the decision. Since its establishment in 1989, following implementation of Copyright Decree No. 47 of 1988, the NCC has worked tirelessly to clamp down on piracy.

Since December 2010, the NCC has intensified its copyright enforcement and anti-piracy activities. The underlying objective is to minimise piracy levels in order to provide an environment conducive to the growth of legitimate copyright industries in Nigeria, an environment in which the rights of creators are respected.

The Director-General of NCC, Mr. John Asein, during an interactive session with representatives of Association of Cable Operators of Nigeria (ACON) in Abuja, said, “we will not tolerate broadcast piracy in whatever form. While the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is the best interpreter of its own broadcast code, the NCC will continue to monitor the broadcast space and enforce respect for copyright in accordance with the copyright law and international treaties to which Nigeria is signatory.”

Asein added: “Any broadcaster found transmitting signals without rights will be apprehended and prosecuted as a broadcast pirate. It does not matter who the broadcaster is. We have received complaints from several right owners, the commission will henceforth take measures to ensure that broadcast rights are protected.”

He stated that the NCC aligned with the Federal Government’s position of protecting the interest of Nigerians and legitimate foreign investors to ensure that all parties benefit from the multilateral agreements that the country is signatory to.

According to him, the commission will work with the NBC to ensure that competition is not stifled and encourage a business environment that will guarantee the growth of local TV operators.“We are in the era of globalisation. While we welcome and protect foreign investors, we must also protect the national economic interest of Nigeria. NCC will always take the path that our interests are well protected in copyright law and in the interests of the local industries. We will not do anything inimical to our national interest but we should also be mindful of our international posture, bearing in mind that foreign interests registered in Nigeria enjoy the same protection as local industries,” he noted.

While highlighting some of the challenges facing the cable operators in view of the evolving technology from analogue to digital transmission, the ACON General-Secretary, Mr. Kalada Wilson, said following directives from NBC, the cable operators had to give up their analogue frequency and spectrum in the interest of the nation to migrate to the Direct Digital Transmission Service (DDTS) in line with global best practices.

He, however, lamented the monopoly of some foreign cable operators in the country, which he described as challenging to their business.Responding, Asein stated that there was need first to know all the cable operators in the broadcast space and to identify their exclusive rights in order to address the challenges facing them. He assured that NCC would ensure that rights were protected, by adopting models that would grow the industry while discouraging activities that undermine Nigeria’s national economic interests.

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