IrokoTV not investing much in Nigeria but ‘buying editors’ to fight NBC code

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Armstrong Idachaba, the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), says IrokoTV, one of Africa’s first mainstream online movie streaming websites, is not investing in Nigeria but taking revenue from the country abroad.

Defending the recently-amended broadcasting code, Idachaba said the money the online streaming service is “spending to fight this code, ordinarily, they wouldn’t have spent even on one local artist”.

Since the new code was introduced, Jason Njoku, the founder of IrokoTV, said the new regulatory document will destroy payTV in Nigeria.

“Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in making exclusivity illegal, compelling sub-licensing of content and regulating price is effectively turning private enterprise into state property,” he tweeted.

“Interference distorts markets. If implemented, this 100% destroys Pay TV in Nigeria”

Speaking in with Osasu Igbinedion on The Osasu Show, Idachaba alleged that those against the code were buying editors to write stories against the code.

“Iroko tv you mentioned, where is the base of iroko tv? Do you know, where did they start? London. And all the money they do through Netflix and other things that they sell, where does the revenue go?” Idachaba asked.

“How much of it is invested into the country? The involvement they do is like a creative investment that allows them to take artistic, cultural materials, original to the Nigerian people and export, maximize the profit, suck it out Nigeria, and still take abroad.

Idachaba suggested that IrokoTV and other players against the NBC code were trying to blackmail the people into believing that the new code was not good for the country.

He hinted that the money they would ordinarily not spend on local artistes are now being spent on buying editors to fight the code.

“I saw one of their titles, Son of Caliphate, typical Northern Nigeria Sokoto story, original to the Zamfara people, then you harness it, you put in beautiful costumes and lights, you put in all the attractive aesthetics, it becomes highly valuable and then you send it across the world,” Idachaba added.

“The local Zamfara boy whose grandfathers were the original creators and owners of the story, don’t ever get to see the story in their lifetime. Does it make sense to you? How do you build a cultural environment that way, how do you build your own history?

“So we need to have a conscious policy that would lead us to develop our culture and our own creative community, don’t be blackmailed by all the stories.

“The money they are spending to fight this code, ordinarily, they wouldn’t have spent even on one local artist. They would say it is not available. But now they have so much to buy editors, to write newspaper stories on account of a policy that we are convinced is good for our own country.”

IrokoTV, Multichoice, NetFlix, EbonylifeTV are likely to be hurt by the new NBC code, which mandates sub-licensing of hitherto exclusive content.

According to Njoku, “IrokoTV started out on YouTube, a mere experiment to digitalise Nigerian content,” but that journey has led to the “foremost content production, acquisition, distribution and subscription business for” Nollywood.

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