SPEECH BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE DURING A COURTESY VISIT BY THE FILMIC GROUP IN LAGOS ON FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 2020

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Let me thank the ladies and gentlemen of the FILMIC Group for this courtesy visit, and for appreciating our efforts at reforming the broadcast industry for the benefit of all stakeholders. I want to also say that I am impressed with the constant intervention of your group on behalf of the industry. This is what patriotism is all about.

2. As you may recollect, the reform of the broadcast industry was kick-started about a year ago, specifically on the 27 of March 2019, when the Federal Executive Council (FEC) deliberated on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general elections, Following the deliberations, Mr. President directed me to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the Council.

3. Consequently, I inaugurated a five-member committee on Wednesday, 10 April 2019 with the following terms of reference:
– Find out to what extent the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general elections.
– Recommend measures that could strengthen the NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.

4. The committee submitted its report on 24 April 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded to Mr. President, who has since approved all the recommendations. Following the approval by Mr. President, I inaugurated the NBC Reform Implementation Committee on 9 Oct. 2019 to work out the modalities for the implementation. The committee submitted its report on 19 Nov. 2019.

5. Consequent to my satisfaction with the report which was very professional and detailed, I directed the Commission to take the necessary measures to effect the full implementation of the recommendations

6. Highlights of the recommendations include:

a) Independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.

b) A review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect the following amendments
– Upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency
– Willful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station to attract suspension of license.
– Upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code
– Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTV and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria.
⁃ Provisions to control monopoly and anti-competitive practices.
– Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC.
– Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC
– Enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their compromise in the line of duty.

7. I can confirm to you that the current NBC Management and Board have begun the actual implementation process. I am reliably informed by the Acting Director General of the NBC, who is here with us, that in the next two weeks, there will be a stakeholder Validation Conference to endorse the new initiatives in the industry, after which the necessary amendments to the Broadcasting Code on Monopoly and Anti-Competition, unwholesome content on social media and other amendments will be published for the public and the industry.

8. The process for the amendment of the NBC Act has begun and soon we shall be forwarding an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for further action. And on staff welfare, the Board has received the approved recommendations and is in the process of implementation.

9. You can now see that this reform is not a fluke. I therefore want to challenge your group, and other stakeholders, to continue to cooperate with the industry regulator in order to ensure a faithful implementation of the recommendations. The government has shown good faith on the reform of the broadcast industry in order to place it a good stead to achieve its full potentials. I urge the stakeholders to follow suit so that, together, we can have a broadcast industry that everyone will be proud of, a broadcast industry that will continue to create jobs and reward talents. This is achievable, if all hands are
on deck.

10. I thank you all for your kind attention