The National Broadcasting Commission's proposed amendment to its broadcasting code has unarguably driven content makers into a frenzy.
Among Nollywood influencers, the fear of yet another downward spiral has influenced varied reactions currently filling up social media feeds. Some have taken to mild online protests targeted at the NBC. But, what does this new code actually mean? How does its implementation affect how content will now be distributed in Nigeria? Here is a breakdown of the amended code and how it may affect the film industry.
Why the Amendment?
"The amendments of the Code make provisions for local content in the broadcast industry. It also makes provisions for increased advertising revenue for local broadcast stations and content producers. It significantly creates restrictions for monopolistic and anti-competitive behaviour in the broadcast industry in Nigeria"- NBC broadcasting Code 6th Edition Amendment
According to the NBC, the code is basically to restrict content monopoly by making broadcast content no longer exclusive to platforms.
Upon effect, the new code will affect providers of film, sports and music content which is for instance your DSTV (Pay TV) for their exclusive rights to foreign football championships or your Iroko and Netflix (Video on Demand platforms) for their acquisition of local content and even production of local content.
Registration of Web/Online Broadcasting Services
Now this section of the code requires that all platforms offering online or web content are fully registered and must comply with the NBC's programming standards.
In clearer terms, the code now stipulates that VOD service providers among others must be registered with the NBC and submit to the commissions' right to regulate their content under its programming standards.
This amendment is vital as the NBC explains that it will protect the broadcast industry from harmful content especially "hate speech and fake news".
Inclusion of local talents in the production of 'local content'
Producers of broadcast content must now ensure that 75 percent of the production's cast and crew are Nigerians. This code particularly profits Nigerians as the law now guarantees the full involvement of local talents.
The anti- competition section
NBC wants to regulate content and one way it plans to achieve this is by giving room for sub-licensing of all broadcast content.
The new law now stipulates that content rights that do not allow for sub-licensing can no longer be aired in Nigeria as this exclusivity denies other content providers purchasing rights.
It is understandable why this code spells doom especially for content creators currently in exclusive deals with VOD and Pay TV platforms.
Simply put, the less exclusive a content is, the lesser its bargaining strength and if reports of the acquisition cost of some Nollywood content are anything to go by, the revenue boom that the industry hopes to enjoy now stands the risk of being dead on arrival.
Seeing as the code labels local content as subject to the commission's programming standards, filmmakers hoping for the opportunity to finally tell inclusive stories may have to bid their hopes goodbye as 'programming standards' become whatever the commission terms it to be.
Although the amendment signals a 'more options' glimmer of hope for content creators and local competitors, it is unclear how foreign investors will react. Hence the widespread fear.