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How NBC amended code will affect digital innovation – PIN

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Paradigm Initiative, on Tuesday, said the recently amended Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code might set back innovation in the country’s digital space.

“The internet space in Nigeria is developing and innovation is to be encouraged,” PIN said in a statement on Tuesday.

“However, policies like this can greatly discourage the development of technology and technology-based services thereby creating an unfavourable environment for the kind of economic growth that is relevant in this age.”

NBC amended broadcast code prevents PayTV and streaming platforms from making content exclusive and compel them to sub-license content at prices the commission will regulate.

The broadcast code was released following recommendations of the Committee on the Reform of the NBC and the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to NBC’s code, these distribution platforms will be forced to sub-license their content to other broadcasters in Nigeria.

NBC in its defence said on Monday that the amendment of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code does not prevent investments in the industry, but to reposition and to make it more responsive to emerging realities.

Acting Director-General of the Commission, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, who stated this on Monday in Abuja, said the industry was facing challenges such as fund generation from advertising and programming.

He lamented that locals were no longer able to create contents, which led to an influx of foreign production companies, some of them unlicensed by the Nigerian government.

Paradigm Initiative, however, stated the commission’s laid down conditions are unfavourable conditions for the just budding PayTV Industry in Nigeria

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“While we’re yet to get an official definition from the Commission for ‘Web/Online Broadcasting’, it is clear from the new provisions that certain clauses will affect the development of the sector,” PIN said.

“ The compulsion to prevent exclusive rights to content on PayTV platforms is archaic and regressive, to say the least.”

The social enterprise also stated that the amendment is a blatant affront to the freedom of copyright holders to use and license their work as they wish, it also chokes innovation in the streaming television business.

PIN also noted there is no public record of the Commission’s consultation with stakeholders in making these amendments and also asking all persons wishing to operate web/online broadcasting services in Nigeria to register with them

“Especially with the new realities faced by Nigeria as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, government policies should not only desist from hampering nascent technologies but must in fact, encourage and incentivize same,” PIN said.

“It also stated that the amendments to the NBC Code do not incentivize innovation in the broadcast and television industry .”

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PIN, therefore, called on stakeholders to call upon the NBC to re-engage its process of amendment by opening dialogue between itself and the key stakeholders who would be affected by these policy directions.

It also asked NBC to seek policies that will incentivize and not punish local content creation and technology service delivery in the broadcast industry.

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