Tag Archives: Nigeria Broadcasting Commission

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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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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The convergence challenge

Former Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) director general Emeka Mba tells Content Nigeria about the challenges that come with the digital transformation of telcos.

Emeka Mba is interviewed at the Creative Nigeria Summit

Partnerships and collaborations are key to evolving and widening any company’s scope, and in the content industry, telcos and broadcasters have often partnered to launch VoD and OTT services to their customers. This has recently been the case in Nigeria, but the rise of OTT services has brought its own challenges.

At the recently concluded Creative Nigeria Summit, Georgiev Stanislav, head of media broadcasting at A1 Telekom Austria Group, moderated a panel session featuring Toyin Subair, exec chairman of Digital Play, and Emeka Mba, the former director general of the NBC. The panellists discussed the digital transformation of telcos and the resulting challenges.

In this exclusive interview with Content Nigeria, Mba sheds more light on some of these issues and offers solutions.

What are the regulatory challenges facing Nigeria and do you think regulators are holding the industry back?
I wouldn’t say they’re holding back the industry wilfully; no, it’s the way the regulatory environment is set up. The world is converging but, as far as digital media is concerned, they don’t know that. They still operate within a certain scope.
In this country, telecommunications operators are separate from broadcast and satellite; there is not enough synergy between them. Realistically speaking, when technology and consumption patterns are converging, the operators and regulators do not collaborate.
Therefore, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a separation will occur, a tear that causes a backward shift in terms of investment.
The regulatory environment is so unclear that these companies fear that if they lean in too much, they might run the risk of heavy fines. So everybody wants to pull back and hedge their bets. Rather than coming in directly, they prefer to look for gaps and loopholes. They avoid making the right investments. These are where the challenges lie.
I’ve been a regulator in broadcasting and film and I know the challenges. I was one of those who opposed convergence. I said to leave the NBC alone, leave the Nigerian Communications Commission alone, leave the film and music censors board alone, they don’t need to merge.
Now, I’ve come to realise the reality: there would be no link-up if there were no formal discussions, some sort of structure, some kind of talks other than the frequency management council where, they meet and discuss sharing of spectrum and so on.
There should be a body that harmonises these other bodies, especially the business models that are merging. These discussions need to be had.

What solutions do you suggest?
We need to find the best way to create this by having what we call the ‘convergence regulator.’ This could be in the form of an institution or some level of informal discussion with the CEOs of these bodies. They can discuss how these business models are beginning to affect their own industries on a day-to-day basis. That’s important and should be done as regularly as possible, either quarterly or biannually.

Would you say anything has been done correctly in terms of convergence?
Oh yes. Look at what some of the telcos are doing – you have big players like MTN experimenting with video, things like MTN Laughs. They have different apps that they are pushing and that’s quite innovative. Airtel and Globacom are trying to do the same thing. They are doing it but there’s a certain weariness on their part to do it on a grand scale because of the uncertainty of regulators, and that’s what needs to be cleared up. Once it’s cleared up, bigger decisions can then be made.

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