New NBC Code will kill Pay TV industry, says Irokotv Boss

Jason Njoku

Jason Njoku, Chief Executive Officer of popular entertainment television channel, IrokoTv, has described the 6th Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code as a regulation that arose from the incompetence of dark forces and will kill the country’s pay television industry.

Njoku made his view known in a series of tweets on Wednesday. The code was released to the public by the NBC on 27 May. According to Njoku, certain provisions of the code, which prohibit exclusivity, compel content sub-licensing to competitors and empower the NBC to determine sub-licensing fees will discourage investment in local content production.

He noted that platforms such as Africa Magic, Filmhouse Cinema, Netflix and Irokotv among others will have no other option except to stop investing in local content.

“Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in making exclusivity illegal, compelling sub-licensing of content and regulating price is effectively turning private enterprise into state property.

 “Interference distorts markets. If implemented, this 100% destroys Pay TV in Nigeria

“Under these proposed terms, it makes zero sense for @irokotv @ROK_DSTV @NetflixNaija @irokotv @africamagictv @FilmhouseCinema @SilverbirdTV @SceneoneTV or any other platform or independent production house to invest in local content,” said Njoku in the tweets.

Njoku also warned Nigerians that their favourite programmes may be interrupted for the broadcast of political rallies and other ‘national emergencies’ as provided by the NBC Code.

“For ‘national emergencies’, 20% of broadcast hours should be dedicated to well… the government. Nationalization in everything but name,” he said.

He contended that the code is bereft of deep thinking and was produced without consultation with stakeholders.

“Zero sense. No consultation. No thought. Nothing

“This our champagne socialism and zero input style of policy making is the reason Nigeria is stunted in everything. I invest billions of Naira in content then I am compelled to share with everyone else as NBC sets the price. Why? Dark forces or incompetence is at play here. Ridiculous

He similarly warned that the regulation may force the hands of operators to further increase prices.

The NBC, in the new regulation, states that every broadcaster must license its broadcast and/or signal rights in any genre of programming to another broadcaster in Nigeria if “the genre of programme(s) enjoy(s) compelling viewership by Nigerians; it relates to a product or service that is objectively necessary to be able to compete effectively on a downstream market; or if it is likely to lead to the elimination of effective competition on the downstream markets”.

The new subsidiary legislation adds that refusal to comply will lead to consumer deprivation and stipulates the imposition of a N10 million for operators who fail to comply.

Earlier in the week, Vanguard reported that Netflix, Irokotv, Amazon and AfricaMagic have started considering ending investments in local content on account of the new code, which seeks to, in addition to imposing a content sub-licensing regime and price regulation, prevent operators from differentiating their services.