NBC code is economic sabotage – Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has described the proposed amendment to Nigeria Broadcasting Code (6th edition) as clear and obvious economic sabotage.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in the new regulation, stipulates, among other things, that broadcasters must share content with competitors to prevent monopoly.

It also seeks to give the NBC powers to determine content prices in the event of a dispute.

“A broadcaster must license its broadcast and/or signal rights in any genre of programming to another broadcaster in Nigeria if “the genre of programme(s) enjoy(s) compelling viewership by Nigerians,” the code said.

Reacting in a statement made available to Qed.ng on Tuesday, Prof Soyinka said the Nigerian government should “come out openly and admit that it has declared war against the arts and its producers instead of its present tactics of piecemeal attrition.”

Blaming the government for the destructive effect of piracy on publishing, the playwright dismissed the NBC code as an attempt to put an industry under siege.

Parts of the statement read: “I have just read excerpts of the newly proposed NBC broadcasting code and become aware of some potentially dangerous aspects of the code. Whilst one concedes that some of the regulations are well intentioned, I shudder to imagine unintended consequences such as backhanded censorship in the age of digital media. These restrict intellectual property rights and their scope of exploitation with whomsoever one chooses to collaborate.  It is economic sabotage writ large, directed against thousands of practitioners. Regulatory? This is strangulatory in effect!

“Several practitioners’ voices have been raised in protest. For one such insider’s detailed and passionate exposition on the deleterious provisions of this Code, I shall draw particular attention of policy makers to Chris Ihidero’s Why Does the NBC Want to Kill Local Content in Nigeria?  If I may invoke a contemporary tragic image to render graphically what Ihidero and others have pleaded on behalf of both creators and consumers of this artistic productivity:

“Let government kindly take its knee off the neck of this industry. Please – let it breathe!”