The recent move by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari to license radio and television stations has sparked a mixed reaction.
While some commentators support the development, saying it will sanitise the online space and stop incendiary web-broadcast sites from fanning the embers of hate and division, others feel the move is inherently wrong.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, defended the move, which is part of wide-ranging reforms of the broadcasting industry. “Web TVs and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria, will be licensed because we must bring sanity into this industry,” he said.
Online radio and television stations, known as over-the-top (OTT) services, are accessed by most internet users today. The Nigerian Communications Commission is under pressure about how and when to regulate OTT players, which have been described as a serious threat to traditional telecoms operators.
Although the NCC has repeatedly claimed that it will not regulate technology, stakeholders have called on the organisation to look for ways to curb the growing influence of OTT players such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Wechat, Telegram, Viber, Skype and Imo.
Umar Danbatta, the NCC’s executive vice chairman and CEO, has urged mobile operators to restructure their business models to increase revenue in the face of challenges raised by OTT services.