Nigeria’s federal government has confirmed it cannot subsidise TV indefinitely and has stressed the need for an effective audience measurement system to allow the industry to grow.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, was speaking at the virtual inauguration of a task team looking at TV audience measurement, held in Abuja.
The government is already subsidising signal distribution because channels cannot pay for carriage by signal distributors, he pointed out.
“Things cannot continue like this. Government cannot continue to subsidise television forever, hence we must create a sustainable ecosystem,” he added.
The minister said the broadcast industry needs a measurement system that will encourage investment, mainly through increased advertising spend driven by confidence in ratings data.
“Increases in advertising revenue will, in turn, encourage current and prospective channel owners to create additional television channels necessary for the success of digital terrestrial television,” he said.
“We need an objective and scientific audience measurement system that articulates the value of the content to consumers, as well as the value of the audience to advertisers, particularly in the television sector. The absence of a world-class measurement regime has resulted in under-investment in the sector, which is necessary to foster the growth of the industry.
“This is because the advertising community continues to rely on subjective factors when making decisions on the content they want, as opposed to how many viewers the content truly attracts.”
The existing audience measurement model will never enable Nigeria’s creative industry to reach its full potential, he claimed.
“The value of Nigeria’s broadcast advertising market is not proportional to the country’s population, when compared with the top three markets in the sub-Saharan Africa. Despite having a population more than three times that of South Africa, Nigeria’s television advertising revenue in 2016 was US$309m, compared with that of South Africa, which was four times as large at US$1.3bn.
“It is imperative that we urgently put in place an industry framework that will ensure that content producers receive their just due for the value of the content they create. We must also provide objective guarantees to the advertising community on their return on investment on media placements. This will then have the overall effect of guaranteeing greater spend by the advertisers, who are all seeking to grow their market share.”
He called on the committee of industry experts to help solve the audience measurement issue in the country once and for all. With the right policy framework, the Nigerian TV ad market will grow to two to three times its current size and generate up to US$400m more in revenue to the industry, he claimed.
The members of the task team includes Alhaji Garba Kankarofi as chairman, Joe Mutah as secretary, Obi Asika, Hajiya Sa’aa Ibrahim, Mahmoud Ali Balogun, Pauline Ehusani and Tolu Ogunkoya.
They have been given six weeks to identify a best-practice audience measurement system that will support the industry’s sustainable growth and recommend a framework to make the system sustainable, independent of the federal government. They must also recommend a payment and disbursement framework for key stakeholders in the industry.