Nigeria’s broadcasting regulators, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5m.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new amendment to the 6th edition of the broadcasting code in Lagos on Tuesday, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, intimated that the licence of any broadcast organisation could be withdrawn if it persists on promoting hate speech after paying the fine.
Mohammed accused some politicians of agreeing to pay those fines for broadcasting organisations to air hate speeches.
“In the build-up to the 2019 elections, if politicians approached broadcast houses to air offensive material and were turned down because of the fear of being fined by the NBC, the politicians doubled the fees to accommodate the fines,” he said.
“So, even with the new rate of N5 million, if you pay and continue to accommodate hate speech, we will have no choice but to withdraw your license.”
The minister also said the antitrust provision in the new code will 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,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Armstrong Idachaba, NBC acting director-general, on his part hailed the federal government for showing interest in the development of the broadcasting industry through its new reforms.
The revised broadcasting code, which has many new inputs has been roundly criticised by many Nigerians and experts on the field. Some of the arguments against it is that it will discourage more widespread participation and investment, and consequently, mitigating against the development of the industry and the rise of new talents.