New regulations have been promised by Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, to safeguard online broadcasters in the country.
He made the announcement at the inauguration of the seven-member National Broadcasting Commission Reform Implementation Committee in Abuja.
The reforms were recommended by a committee Mohammed had set up at the direction of president Muhammadu Buhari as a result of the unprofessional conduct of some broadcast stations.
The committee, which has been given six weeks to submit its report, is chaired by the director of broadcast monitoring at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Armstrong Idachaba, while the chief press secretary at the ministry of information and culture, Joe Mutah, will serve as secretary.
Other members are Godfrey Ohuabunwa, acting chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON); Joseph Ehicheoya, director of legal services at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; Binta Bello, secretary general of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON); Ibrahim Jimoh, director of administration at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; and Agbo Kingsley Ndubuisi, a member of the NBC board.
The approved recommendations include an increase in fines for breaches relating to hate speech from N500,000 to N5m and the reclassification of divisive comments to Class A offences in the broadcasting code, plus the amendment of the NBC act to enable the NBC to license web TV and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria.
The terms of reference of the implementation committee are: “To immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC act by the National Assembly.
“To work out the modalities for competitive and reasonable salaries, wages and other welfare needs of the staff of the commission.
“To establish necessary protocols for the establishment or appointment of professionals or technocrats (non-partisan personality) to run the agency, and appointment to the board of the NBC.”
Mohammed added: “I have no doubt that this committee, which comprises highly experienced professionals and administrators, will carry out a thorough job that will reposition the NBC as an effective and efficient regulator.”