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General News of Thursday, 17 June 2021

Source: www.mynigeria.com

In Nigeria, minister opts for power to regulate private broadcasting

Lai Mohammed Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has stated that the country needs power to regulate private broadcasting, including internet and online outlets.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while speaking on Wednesday at the House Committee public hearing on a bill to amend the National Broadcasting Act organised by the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values said the National Assembly should amend the existing NBC law to include internet and online media broadcast in the country, as the federal government has the obligation to monitor broadcast content.

However, stakeholders in the industry including Institute for Media and Society, International Press Centre, and the Centre for Media Law and Advocacy argued that the inclusion of internet broadcast and online media to broadcast service licenses will spell doom for civic space, freedom of expression, and media freedom.

On the proposal that the NBC should regulate and provide digital broadcasting in Nigeria in line with the International Telecommunication Union, (ITU) agreement referred to as Regional Agreement GEO6, 2006, the Minister noted that it should be in a manner that will not be cost-effective for Nigeria.

He said; “With due respect, our laws cannot be subservient to international telecommunication union treaties.

It is true that we are part of the treaty, but our laws and act cannot be made subservient to any treaty.

Treaties àre made, but our laws will have to protect peculiar situations in our country.

"Internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this, because we have a responsibility to monitor our contents, including Twitter."

The Minister reacting to section 2 (C) of the proposed law which listed the categories of licenses to be granted listed them as, Cable Television Service, Direct Satellite Broadcast, Direct Home Service, IPTV Radio, EPG, Digital Terrestrial Television, Radio, and Television Stations and others.

While declaring the two-day public hearing open, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila noted that If these Bills become law, the proposals contained therein will influence the creation of media content.

"They will determine the content of advertising, regulate free speech and establish institutions that will impact our country for generations to come."

The considered Bills are; an Act to amend the National Broadcasting ACT, CAP N11 Laws of the federation, 2004; A Bill for an ACT to establish, Nigeria Institute of Translators and Interpreters and for related matters (HB 136); A Bill for an ACT to repeal advertising Practitioners, Registration and others CAP A7, 2004.

Also, a Bill for an ACT to repeal the national  Film and Video Censors Board ACT CAP N40, 2004 and a BIll for an ACT to amend the Nigeria Press Council ACT CAP N28, 2004.

The Speaker stated that the House Committee on Information, Culture, Ethics, and Values, ably led by Olusegun Odebunmi convened this Public Hearing to allow citizens and stakeholders to review and contribute to draft Bills currently under consideration in the House of Representatives.  

"Public hearings, policy dialogues, and other such activities are an important part of the legislative process as they allow elected representatives of the people to collaborate with the public in a joint effort, making laws for the good government of the country and welfare of all our people.  

"Each of the Bills under consideration seeks, significantly to alter the statutory framework of media, advertising and intellectual property regulation in Nigeria. 

"I say this to remind all the stakeholders, lawmakers, and citizens, that you have a tremendous responsibility, to make sure that all the legislation that emerges from this process are of the highest quality, and in the best interest of the Nigerian people and do not impose liabilities on our people or create conditions that will allow for infringements on human rights of citizens. 

"You have a lot of work to do, and I am confident that you will do it well to the best of your abilities," he added.

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