FG increases fine for hate speech to N5million

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (right),
and the Acting Director General of the National Broadcasting
Commission, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba (left), at the unveiling of the
reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code in Lagos on Tuesday

The Federal Government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed announced while unveiling amended edition of Nigeria’s Broadcasting Code on Tuesday.

The increase in the fine for hate speech was one of the highlights of the amended Code which has been generating controversies from stakeholders in the film and broadcast industry before it was formally unveiled on Tuesday.

Another controversial provision in the new code was the Antitrust provision aimed at boosting local content and encouraging  the growth of the local industry, among other provisions.

Speaking the unveiling ceremony organized by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in Lagos on Tuesday, the Minister defended the Antitrust provision.

According to him, contrary to fears of some operators in the industry, the Antitrust provision  will boost local content and local industry  due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves.

He said the Antitrust provision would also encourage open access to premium content.

”I must explain that this provision is not new to Nigeria Broadcasting. Exclusivity was disallowed at a certain time in the history of our broadcasting. I recall Multichoice sub-licensing EPL matches to other local operators in Nigeria. I recall HITV engaging several local operators on sub-licensing the EPL when they got the rights,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said the revised Code contains the law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts in order to promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content, as well as the law on registration of Web Broadcasting, which will grant the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm the nation.

“The provisions on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies…obviously mandates terrestrial andPay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at time of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment,” the Minister said.

He clarified that the amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive, in the wake of the 2019 general elections, for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the NBC with a view to repositioning the regulator for optimum performance.

He said despite the attacks by some vested interests, who believe that their singular business interest is superior to national interest, over the provisions of the amended Code, the Federal Government remains unperturbed.

“But, as it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria. Our intention remains the good of the country. We need to catalyze the growth of the local industry. We need to create jobs for our teeming creative youths. The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of attaining this. That’s why we will not waver,” the Minister said.

For his part, the Acting Director General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, commended the present administration for showing keen interest in the development of the Broadcasting Industry through the implementation of reforms and several other interventions.

The event was attended by officials of NBC and other stakeholders in the Broadcasting Industry.