By Benneth Oghifo
Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji, has joined the stakeholders in the creative and broadcast industries calling for a revisit of the recently amended 6th edition of the National Broadcasting Code.
Okoroji made the call while speaking on both News Scope with Patrick Doyle, Silverbird Television’s flagship public affairs programme; and The Morning Show on Arise News. According to Okoroji, the code’s stated objective of increasing Nigerians’ participation in the creation and dissemination of broadcast content, is commendable. However, he stated that the amendments to code have been drafted in a way that makes them unworkable and unenforceable, as they carry the potential for unending litigation and risk for significant divestment from the creative space.
The COSON chief said the drafters of the code may have acted ultra vires, as they appear to be minded to place a subsidiary legislation above the constitution, which implies an attempt to usurp the powers of the National Assembly to make laws.
He noted that some provisions of the code may be unconstitutional, notably those on content exclusivity, advertising and payment of royalties for musical works and sound recordings.
He observed that the drafters seek to treat the rights of parties in to a contract to agree on their terms with indifference.
Okoroji, a reputed intellectual property expert, expressed concern that the NBC did not take input from many key stakeholders, who will be impacted by the code, before or during the amendment process, which he said took place when movement was restricted by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Others who have called for a revisit of the code include Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, former Chairman, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), who said many issues the code seeks to address are already adequately covered by the APCON Code. He called on the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to reconstitute the APCON Council, which can better deal with the issues related to advertising.
Also, Mr. Chris Ehindero, an independent movie producer, said the code will kill investments in the creative space at a time the industry is about to start enjoying investments in big productions. Similarly, Mr. Richard Akinnola, a renowned journalist and Director, Media Law Centre, said the code cannot withstand legal scrutiny.
The Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) has also asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to suspend the implementation of the amended 6th broadcasting code.
On The Morning Show on Arise News, Okoroji said that he suspects that the hold that MultiChoice has on the English Premiership is driving some of the provisions in the revised code. He suggested that some Nigerian broadcasting stations should pull their resources together and challenge MultiChoice rather than going it alone. He complained about the recent penchant of Nigerians to attack Nigerian companies with foreign origins, saying that such may lead to serious divestment in Nigeria and massive loss of jobs held by Nigerians.
“MultiChoice may have originated from South Africa, but Multichoice Nigeria is a Nigerian company. The Chairman of the company, Mr. Adewumi Ogunsanya, is a Nigerian; the CEO, Mr. John Ugbe, is a Nigerian.
“Thousands of Nigerians make their living through MultiChoice. What do we gain by hounding the company?
“Alhaji Aliko Dangote is presently investing in many countries across the African continent and providing jobs in these nations. How will Nigerians feel if those investments are threatened simply because the initial promoter of the business is a Nigerian?”