COVID-19: FG Sets up Committee for Creative Industry, Waives Licence Fee for Broadcast Stations

By Vanessa Obioha

At a meeting with the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed announced that the Federal Government had set up a committee of creative industry stakeholders that would advise it on the best way to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the industry.

The creative industry which covers mainly film, music, theatre, fashion and photography has been hit badly by the novel coronavirus since restrictions on social gatherings took effect.

Mohammed in his speech stressed the critical role that the industry which also contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plays in the country.

“The creative industry is a very critical sector of the nation’s economy and a major plank of the economic diversification policy of this administration. It creates the highest number of jobs after agriculture, especially for the youth. Therefore, there is no doubt that we need a collective and government-supported approach in dealing with the immediate, short and long term palliatives and initiatives for the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the sector.”

The committee, made up of stakeholders across the sector, is mandated to send a report within four weeks that will assess 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 as well as to 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 will be chaired by ace comedian, Ali Baba, and include other representatives of film, music and theatre, like Bolanle Austen-Peters, Segun Arinze, Dare Art Alade, Charles Novia, Kene Okwuosa, Chioma Ude, Baba Agba, Ali Jita, Efe Omorogbe, Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim, Anita Eboigbe, Olumade Adesemowo and Prince Daniel Aboki.

“We are still expecting representatives from the fashion, publishing, photography, hospitality and travel sectors,” the Minister added.

Reacting to the move by the Federal Government, Novia who is a media entrepreneur and CEO of Teen TV applauded the federal government for recognising the creative industry at a critical time like this.

“In these uncertain times and with the entertainment sector badly affected as with other reeling sectors of the economy, the committee as set up by the FG, will make the best recommendations for the sectors we represent. Thankfully, the FG recognises our sector as one of the pivots in job creation and though we have all been badly affected by the Covid-19 economic fallouts, we are hopeful that with the right actions taken after the committee makes its recommendations, we will be out of the woods,” he said.

Mohammed also announced that the Federal Government had approved the request by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to grant a two-month licence fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations in Nigeria.

“I want to put on record that the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has sent protective equipment to some community broadcast stations across the country,” he added.

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