Tag Archives: Lai Mohammed

FG to fine Nigerian brands for foreign ads

Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, is clamping down on brands that advertise during international football matches but not Nigerian ones.

Lai Mohammed

The minister has announced that Nigerian brands that run TV commercials during foreign football matches must advertise to an equal extent during Nigeria Premier League games or pay a N100,000 (US$262) fine each time the ad appears on television.

This development was revealed recently during an interview on NTA’s Good Morning Nigeria programme, according to South African blog TV With Thinus.

In the NTA show, Mohammed said: “Let’s assume you have brought in La Liga, and during the matches Guinness is advertised. We will compel you, we will compel Guinness to also advertise when we are playing a local league. That is the only way we can grow this industry, but as can be expected, we have had very few supporters.

“If you do an advert in South Africa, you put it on CNN International and we look at that advert and we see that the advert was not made in Nigeria but actually made in South Africa, or you see that five times a day on CNN, you pay half-a-million [naira] to us. The half-a-million will go to the content development fund.”

The minister added that this was in line with Nigeria’s previously amended Broadcasting Code, which states that ads for products meant for Nigerian audience must be made in Nigeria.

“What is common today is to see products made in Nigeria but the advert for those products are actually probably done in South Africa or in the US. So we amended the Code to say that if a product you want to advertise in Nigeria is made in Nigeria, grown in Nigeria or processed in Nigeria, then you must make sure that the advert is also produced in Nigeria,” said Mohammed.

“[Beer brand] Gulder is made and processed in Nigeria. If you go to South Africa to produce an advert which you are going to air to Nigerians because Nigerians consume Gulder, what we have amended the code to say that for every time that advert is aired in Nigeria, either on radio or television, you pay a fine of N100,000.

“We went further to say that if a company should invest US$1m in bringing the English Premier League [EPL] to Nigeria, that company must also be ready to spend 30% of that US$1m in producing a local content along the same line. In other words, if Maltina or Guinness decides to bring in EPL we have no problem with that. But they must also invest in covering our local league to the tune of 30% of what he has paid.”

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Nigeria ready to complete DSO process

The federal government of Nigeria is gearing up to conclude the nationwide digital switchover (DSO) process.

Lai Mohammed

A 13-member ministerial task force has been assembled to handle the conclusion of the DSO process across the country.

As well as information and culture minister Lai Mohammed, members of the task force include Armstrong Idachaba of the National Broadcasting Commission, Edward Amana and Tunde Adegbola of government DSO body Digiteam, and Hajia Sa’s Ibrahim of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria.

Mohammed said that with the release of about N9.4bn (US$24.6m) by the federal government for the conclusion of the DSO process, there should be no excuse by the ministerial committee for not swiftly rolling out DSO across the country.

“We have studied the trend and it is clear that we have to reduce government involvement in the DSO ecosystem and allow the private sector to take the lead, on purely commercial terms,” Mohammed said.

“With the devastating effects of Covid-19 and the fall in government revenues, the federal government can no longer afford to subsidise the programme, especially set-top-boxes and signal carriage, which ordinarily can and should be highly competitive commercial ventures.”

Mohammed continued: “In order to begin the commercialisation of DSO, we need to create a structure and an ecosystem that is self-sufficient, self-reliant and able to generate revenue that will drive strategic growth in key areas. The details of that structure are for the task force to explore.

“My decision to set up the ministerial task force to drive the DSO process is hinged on the fact that a successful digital switchover is a massive job creator and a huge revenue generator. This process is capable of creating over one million jobs over the next three years.”

According to Vanguard Nigeria, the minister broke down the jobs that could be created by the DSO into the manufacturing sector (between 40,000 and 50,000 jobs), television production (over 200,000 jobs), film production (between 350,000 and 400,000 jobs), distribution (over 100,000 jobs), television and online advertising (about 50,000 jobs), as well as others.

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TV news told to use sign language

The federal government of Nigeria has given television stations in the country a directive to use sign language interpreters during major news broadcasting.

Lai Mohammed

The directive was revealed by the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, at a virtual meeting with the officials of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD).

The directive is in line with the national broadcasting code, which will be of benefit to all those living with disabilities and will be officially communicated to all public and private TV stations, according to the minister.

Mohammed said: “I have also directed, within my ministry most importantly, the issue of television stations having sign language interpreters and, by tomorrow, I can assure you that a directive will go out to television stations pointing their attention to the relevant provisions of the broadcasting code. I am sure that in a few weeks’ time, you will begin to see the difference.”

In addition, the ministry will work with the CCD to implement Section 2 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act to promote awareness about the rights, respect and dignity of persons with disabilities, financial resource company Nairametrics reported on its website.

David Anyaele, executive director of the CCD, advised government ministries, departments and agencies to comply with the act, urging them to reserve at least 5% of employment opportunities for people living with disabilities.

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NBC sued for fining TV stations

Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and its acting director-general are being sued along with information and culture minister Lai Mohammed over fines the commission imposed on three TV broadcasters last week.

Lai Mohammed

The lawsuit has been initiated by the Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP), along with 261 groups and individuals, over the N9m (US$23,600) fines imposed by the NBC, which is led by acting director-general Armstrong Idachaba.

The fines were imposed on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV for allegedly using unverifiable video footage from social media to cover the End SARS protests that recently took place in Nigeria.

In the suit, which is before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the SERAP-backed group has urged the court to declare that the fines are arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional and should not be enforced by the NBC.

The group consists of co-plaintiffs including Premium Times Services, the Centre for Journalism Innovation & Development, the HEDA Resource Centre, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy and Media Rights Agenda.

They claim the fines were imposed without fair hearing and are in breach of the broadcasters’ constitutional rights.

“The NBC, being a regulatory body, is not empowered by law to act as the prosecutor and the judge all at the same time,” said a statement from SERAP.

“We humbly urge the court to set aside the unlawful and unconstitutional fines imposed on independent media houses, and to uphold the sanctity of the Nigerian Constitution, Nigerians’ human rights, media freedom and the rule of law.”

The plaintiffs are seeking “an order setting aside the arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional fines of N9m and any other penal sanction unilaterally imposed by the NBC and Mohammed on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV, and on any other radio/television station simply for carrying out their professional and constitutional duties.”

They also argue that the NBC Act and the Broadcasting Code are oppressive and inconsistent with the constitution and international obligations, which guarantee freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.

“If the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed are allowed to continue to use these oppressive provisions against independent media in the guise of performing their statutory duties, the result will be authoritarianism and denial of freedom and liberty,” they stated.

The group also asked the court to nullify the N5m and other penal sanctions unilaterally imposed on 99.3 FM Lagos for discharging its duties.

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Kano state goes digital

Lai Mohammed (right) at the unveiling of the Kano state digital switchover

The digital switchover (DSO) has launched in Kano state after an official event at the Coronation Hall in the state’s Government House.

Edward Idris Amana, chairman of Digiteam, a group of stakeholders set up by the Nigerian government to coordinate the country’s migration from analogue to digital, said the move was another milestone in Nigeria’s journey to full digitisation.

“This journey started in Jos in April 2016 with the launch of the pilot scheme. This was quickly followed with successes in Abuja, Enugu, Kaduna, Ilorin, Osogbo, Lagos and now in Kano,” he said.

Amana added that the next point of call would be Port Harcourt, confirming that plans had reached an advanced stage to make sure the launch in Port Harcourt is a success.

“All the successes achieved so far couldn’t have been possible without the untiring efforts and leadership of the honourable minister of information, Lai Mohammed, together with his team, members of the Digiteam, ministerial task force and others,” he said.

John Ugbe, CEO of pay TV company MultiChoice and chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, commended regulator the NBC for the switch from analogue to digital, adding that he had no doubt the NBC has dedicated staff who have the capability to achieve a successful switchover.

Mohammed said the DSO is aimed at creating a more equitable, just and people-centred information society that will connect underserved populations and remote communities, thereby bridging the digital divide. “The federal government is vigorously implementing a nationwide process of transitioning from analogue to digital TV broadcasting,” he said.

Looking back at efforts made so far with the launch in Lagos, Jos and other states, the minister added: “The journey may have been slow but it has been steady and we will keep it so.”

He added that with DSO, there will be improved picture and graphics, enhanced information services, improved digital services in remote areas, availability of over 60 digital channels, movies, and the transmission of free TV, which is readily available throughout the country.

The federal government is promoting DSO because it is critical to the prosperity of the creative industry, the minister added.

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Government to resume DSO roll-out

Nigeria’s federal government has revealed that it will soon resume digital switchover (DSO) across the country.

Lai Mohammed
Minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed made the announcement at a ceremony during the unveiling of the new amendment to the sixth edition of the broadcasting code.

He said DSO was put on hold after it was launched in six states and reiterated the commitment of the government to spreading the benefits of digital television to the people, stressing that it was the fastest way to create jobs.

He assured stakeholders they would hear from the government on the resumption of the DSO roll-out in the coming weeks.

“The government had been implementing policies and programmes to reposition the creative industry and one of the major recommendations of the post Covid-19 initiative committee on the creative industry chaired by ace comedian Ali Baba was a restructuring of the industry,” said the minister.

He said the government would soon set up a committee looking at the implementation of the recommendations to move the industry forward. He also reiterated its commitment to assisting the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria in securing the N10bn Nigeria Media Intervention Fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The roll-out of DSO began in Jos, Plateau in April 2016 and moved to Abuja, Ilorin, Kaduna and Enugu in Oshogbo in February 2018 and Benin City in 2019.

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StarTimes wins rights to LaLiga

Pay TV operator StarTimes has acquired the broadcasting rights to matches in Spain’s La Liga football division, which will be aired on its platform in Nigeria from next season.

StarTimes’ entry into La Liga aims to redefine the pay TV sector, attract more Nigerians to the league and end the exclusivity clause in live sports content broadcasting rights in Nigeria following the government’s prohibition of exclusivity rights in broadcasting sporting events in the country.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, had directed the National Broadcasting Commission to implement a new regulation mandating broadcasters and exclusive licensees to share such rights with other broadcasters.

“This regulation prevents the misuse of monopoly or market power or anti-competitive and unfair practices by a foreign or local broadcaster to suppress other local broadcasters in the television and radio markets,” he said.

Football lovers will be able to watch live Spanish top-tier league matches on the StarTimes platform.

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Govt grants debt relief to broadcasters

Nigeria’s government has granted a 60% debt relief to all broadcasters in the country that are in debt in an attempt to mitigate Covid-19’s impact on the industry.

Lai Mohammed

During a media briefing on the government’s efforts to bring financial sustainability to the broadcast industry, Information and culture minister Lai Mohammed said the sector had been hit particularly hard by falling ad revenues and sponsorship in the wake of the pandemic.

According to Mohammed, Nigerian radio and television stations owe the government a total of N7.8bn, with many risking losing their broadcast licence.

“Against this background, the management of the NBC has recommended, and the federal government has accepted, 60% debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations in the country,” he said. “However, the criterion for enjoying the debt forgiveness was for debtor stations to pay 40% of their existing debt within the next three months.

“Any station that is unable to pay the balance of 40% indebtedness within the three months’ window shall forfeit the opportunity to enjoy the stated debt forgiveness.”

Mohammed said the government had also approved a discount of 30% on the existing broadcast licence fee for all operating terrestrial radio and television services, effective July 10, in addition to the two-month licence fee waiver already granted to terrestrial broadcast stations by the NBC.

“The debt forgiveness and discount shall not apply to pay TV service operators in Nigeria. The effective date of the debt forgiveness shall be July 10 to October 6, 2020,” he said.

Looking to the future, the minister added: “It is our expectation that the sector will cash in on this unique opportunity to make itself an effective catalyst for national development.”

Discussing efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on the creative sector in general, Mohammed pointed out that the government had set up a post-Covid-19 initiatives committee for the creative industry, which has already submitted a report containing recommendations to benefit the sector industry.

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Gov’t pushes for measurement system

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

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.

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Broadcast stations get licence waiver

The Nigerian government has granted a two-month licence fee waiver to terrestrial broadcast stations to ease the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry.

Lai Mohammed

Information and culture minister Lai Mohammed announced the move during a meeting with the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON). The organisation had asked the government to approve tax rebates for the broadcast stations as well as a one-year moratorium in the payment of annual operating licence fees to the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Terrestrial stations affected include Galaxy, AIT, TVC, MITV, Silverbird TV, NTA, which are all free-to-air channels. A broadcast licence fee in Nigeria costs as much as US$7,661 a year for these companies.

Mohammed said: “While BON members have been hit hard by the current pandemic, they are not alone. In fact, the entire creative industry, which also covers the broadcast industry, has been affected by the pandemic that has inflicted extensive damage on the economy of nations across the world.”

Mohammed also announced the setting up of a committee of creative industry stakeholders to address the effect of the pandemic on the sector.

“Before I announce the terms of reference of the committee, let me say that, in the interim, I want to announce that I have approved the request by NBC to grant a two-month licence fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations in Nigeria.

“The committee will be assessing the expected impact of the pandemic on the industry in general, advise the government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses in the sector, create succour for the industry’s small businesses, suggest the type of taxation and financing that is best for the industry at this time to encourage growth, and advise the government on any other measure or measures that can be undertaken to support the industry.”

The committee members include Nollywood comedian Ali Baba as chairman; TV producer Charles Novia; actor Segun Arinze; FreeTV’s Olumade Adesemowo; streamer Envivo’s Chioma Ude; Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim of the BON; and Anita Eboigbe from the News Agency of Nigeria.

Mohammed added: “We are still expecting the representatives of the fashion, publishing, photography, hospitality and travel sectors, and the committee has four weeks to submit its report.”

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Creative industry committee to take on virus

Nigeria’s federal government has set up a committee of creative industry stakeholders to address the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector.

Lai Mohammed

During a meeting with the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), information and culture minister Lai Mohammed announced the appointment of the committee members and outlined the group’s aims.

He said: “The committee will be assessing the expected impact of the pandemic on the industry in general, advise the government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses in the sector, create succour for the industry’s small businesses, suggest the type of taxation and financing that is best for the industry at this time to encourage growth, and advise the government on any other measure or measures that can be undertaken to support the industry.”

The committee members include Nollywood comedian Ali Baba, TV producer Charles Novia; actor Segun Arinze; FreeTV’s Olumade Adesemowo; streamer Envivo’s Chioma Ude; Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim of the BON; and Anita Eboigbe from the News Agency of Nigeria.

Mohammed added: “We are still expecting the representatives of the fashion, publishing, photography, hospitality and travel sectors, and the committee has four weeks to submit its report.”

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Government seeks $500m to digitise NTA

The federal government is seeking a US$500m loan in order to digitise Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) stations in the country.

Lai Mohammed

According to Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, the fund will be used to improve the creative industry in Nigeria as well as create 100,000 jobs for young people.

“The fund will aid in the establishment of a media and cultural training centre which will help train Nigerian broadcasters and filmmakers and also generate revenue for the nation. The International Telecommunication Union has given a dateline for nations to migrate from analogue to digital television broadcast,” he said.

He added that the digitalisation of all NTA stations would help to improve the quality of the nation’s television programmes.

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Media agencies ‘face financial constraints’

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister for information and national orientation, has admitted that government-owned media organisations are being hit by a lack of funds.

Lai Mohammed

Mohammed was speaking during a session of the Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation attended by media organisations at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

Broadcast organisations at the event included the News Agency of Nigeria, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission.

“We know what to do to run FRCN and NTA profitably but we have an obligation to provide social services and create employment for Nigerian youth,” he said. “We want to make money but we are constrained.”

Ibrahim Mammaga, director of the News Agency of Nigeria, which used to be 100% financed by the government but no longer receives funds, said his agency remits 25% of the money it generates to the government.

“Our responsibility is to educate, just like FRCN and NTA. We operate in all the states of the federation with 28 district offices,” he said. “Until recently, when we established the multimedia unit, we didn’t generate revenue. What we generate from our subscribers is too small to the extent that it will not finance 1% of our operations.

“We have equipment in all the states of the federation, but the equipment is not working. If not for our laptops and smartphones, we would be in a difficult situation.”

Mammaga noted that even though the agency provided content to its subscribers, little in the way of earnings was generated. He added that it earned only N130m in 2017, which was not even enough to cover its electricity bills.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and public Affairs, Adedayo Adedeye, urged the government to manage information in the social media era and also advised the agencies to generate more revenue to run the stations as well as contribute to the government.

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NBC warns broadcasters over standards

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has warned it will sanction television stations that violate the nation’s broadcasting code.

NBC chairman Ikra Bilbis and director-general Modibbo Kawu made the announcement during the commission’s fifth annual lecture series, held in Abuja.

Kawu said: “The duty of regulating broadcasting becomes ever more challenging as the number of stations being licensed to operate increases by the day.The NBC has to keep up with the growing number of licences, amongst whom are those who believe they should not be regulated, or who regularly air content that leaves much to be desired from the perspective of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”

According to Bilbis, the commission is focusing on a number of initiatives to ensure broadcasting in Nigeria is on a par with the rest of the world.

“We must again ponder at the power of the broadcast media which can affect people’s thinking and behaviour for good or evil. Such a medium with monumental influence on society cannot be unregulated. As you are all aware, the NBC was established some 27 years ago. Its primary mandate was to initiate and promote private ownership of broadcasting in Nigeria, after close to 60 years of government sole ownership of the industry,” he added.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said that he would ensure the broadcast industry and information sector moves to the next level of prosperity.

“Let me reiterate that president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has great respect for the media and still continues to work with them as partners,” he said. “In recent times, our information space has been flooded with content that tests the unity and peace of the country. This content circulates within the social media like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and many other social media platforms.

“Some of this content, which is mostly unverifiable, finds ways into the mainstream media in the form of fake news. I will enjoin the broadcast media to constructively make use of social media content with a great sense of patriotism for peace and unity in Nigeria.”

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Government backs NBC code review

New regulations have been promised by Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, to safeguard online broadcasters in the country.

Lai Mohammed

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.”

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TV, radio licensing stirs mixed feelings

The recent move by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari to license radio and television stations has sparked a mixed reaction.

Lai Mohammed

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.

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Nigeria to be ‘capital of African TV’

Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, has claimed that the country is building Africa’s biggest and most lucrative free-to-air TV platform.

At the recent digital switchover (DSO) launch in Osun State, Mohammed said he is convinced that Nigeria will become the capital of African television within a few years.

“With over 24 million TV households, and being the capital of African creativity in music and film, I am now more than convinced that we will also become the capital of television in Africa within the next few years,” he said.

He urged phone companies to take advantage of the opportunities set before them by getting data across to the 24 million TV households in the country with set-top boxes.

According to the minister, content providers will be paid to have their programmes aired, and this will be done through an audience measurement system. “To Nollywood, your movies can now be sold directly to all homes in Nigeria without the need of a VCD, DVD or even the internet, using the DSO platform to market and sell films,” he added.

Mohammed also encouraged the state government to engage residents in the DSO transitions by creating jobs for them in production and distribution.

“I congratulate the people of this state [Osun], who will now have access to more than 30 digital channels, with crystal clear pictures and hi-fidelity audio, once they procure our most affordable set-top box,” he said.

Osun State governor Rauf Aregbesola expressed gratitude to the federal government and the minister for making the DSO transition possible and bringing new opportunities to broadcasting.

However, he appealed to the government for control measures on the Free TV platform to avoid explicit and offensive programmes.

As part of the launch event, Mohammed donated 100 set-top boxes to the state.

Osun State is the sixth to undergo DSO transition in Nigeria. So far, DSO has taken place in five states: Abuja, Jos, Kwara, Kaduna and Enugu.

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NBC to host 4th annual lecture

NBC director general Is’haq Modibo Kawu

Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is set to hold its fourth annual lecture this Thursday.

On August 30, the NBC – in conjunction with the Ministry of Information & Culture – will host its fourth annual lecture. This year, it is titled: Broadcasting & Nigeria’s Ethno-cultural & Religious Divide – Bridging the Gap.

The event is scheduled to take place at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja at 9.00 with a number of dignitaries and thought-leaders expected to discuss the future of broadcasting in the nation.

These include: Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari; Kashim Shettima, state governor of Borno; Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information & Culture; and Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, director general of NBC.

Since its inception, the annual lecture is usually scheduled a few days after the NBC anniversary. It retains the tradition this year as the NBC celebrated its 26th anniversary on Friday, August 24.

During the celebration, Kawu addressed the commission’s staff, stating: “We play a vital role in helping to secure national peace and unity in our country and strive daily to license, monitor, regulate and ensure that all licencees walk the straight and narrow path of the Nigerian broadcasting code.

He continued: “It is a daunting task that we have to carry out on a 24-hour basis and the fact that our institution has gone to this height is precisely because the staff put their all into making the institution what it has become. The importance of today is part of the history of our country, the broadcasting industry in Nigeria and our role as regulator in the industry.”

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Gov’t plans TV ad revenues boost

Nigeria’s federal government has unveiled plans to increase the country’s television advertising revenues by up to US$400m.

Lai Mohammed

At the digital switchover (DSO) launch event in Enugu state, Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, said an audience-measurement system (AMS) would be put in place as part of the DSO to boost advertising revenues.

The team in charge of the AMS will comprise representatives from media organisations and authorities such as the National Broadcasting Commission, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria and the Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria, plus various signal distributors.

According to Mohammed, the current market evaluation system falls short and requires improvement. “As it is now, the value of Nigeria’s broadcasting advertising market is not proportionate with its population, when compared to the top three markets in the sub-Saharan Africa region,” he said.

“Despite having a population more than three times that of South Africa, Nigeria’s television advertising revenue in 2016, at US$309m, was 76% behind that of South Africa. In both territories, the value and growth rate of the broadcasting advertising revenue is largely influenced by the availability of a scientific AMS.”

Mohammed urged the cooperation of practitioners in the industry, calling on them to push for the progress of this framework by aiding the government.

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Mohammed vows to end TV monopolies

Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, has revealed the government intends to put a stop to the country’s broadcasting monopolies because of the effect they have on the TV industry’s potential.

Lai Mohammed

He made the announcement at a recent a meeting with online publishers in Lagos, adding that he had implemented reforms and inaugurated the National Broadcasting Commission reform implementation committee to impose stiffer penalties on those who violate broadcast regulations.

“A situation where a few people corner a chunk of the industry to the detriment of others, especially our teeming and talented youths, is totally unacceptable and untenable,” Mohammed said.

“Monopolies stunt growth, kill talent and discourage creativity. The clearest example of the creative energy that can be unleashed when monopoly is totally broken can be seen in the telecommunications industry.”

As part of the shake-up, MultiChoice’s current monopoly over the live airing of important sporting events will end.

“In the case of Nigeria, it’s the monopoly of content that breeds anti-competition practices. You cannot use your financial or whatever power to corner and hold on tight to a chunk of the market, preventing others from having access. Such monopolies are crumbling everywhere in the world and Nigeria cannot be left out,” Mohammed added.

Although DStv has the monopoly on the live broadcasting of the UEFA Champions League and English Premier League in Nigeria, a source within the ministry suggested the new era of liberalisation is expected to allow sporting events to be accessed by other pay TV and free-to-air platforms.

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