Armstrong Idachaba, the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), says the commission is not backing down on the controversial amendment to the country’s broadcasting code.
Idachaba said the new broadcasting code is to break the monopoly of “greedy capitalists” who “call themselves dominant players” and allow local payTV platforms to thrive.
In March 2020, the NBC released the 6th edition of its broadcasting code, which mandates sub-licensing of premium content and kills the idea of exclusivity.
Broadcasters, columnists, and Multichoice, one of the dominant players in the Nigerian payTV industry, have spoken against the code, which they say further stifles the growth of the industry.
But Idachaba disagrees; according to him, “the amendments have been made, no going back because we believe it is good for our country, they are already operational”.
Speaking with Osasu Igbinedion on The Osasu Show, Idachaba said the NBC has licenced several local payTV platforms, but they do not survive due to the presence of the likes of DStv.
When asked about the negative effect the lack of exclusivity clause may have on DStv, Idachaba said: “Let me give you a poser as background: Why is it, have you ever thought, that our local tv, cable, paid services are nonexistent? There is no Nigerian that is active on the payTV platform, no Nigerian company.
“NBC licenced several, up to 30 Nigerian firms to offer paid television services in Nigeria and none of them succeeded. Why, because they cannot compete in the international content market.
“And what happens to the international content market, the people with the big purse, the global capitalist, those that call themselves dominant players, they go to acquire those rights and keep it to themselves in the guise of exclusivity and deny all other operators an opportunity for sublicensing.
“What does that do? What it does is to create a monopolistic economy for whoever is the buyer of that content and the person is able to maximize profit unhindered. That is why you find internet penetration in Nigeria is increasing by the day. That is why you find that all those big monopolies break even and make tonnes of money.
“What we are saying is that when you go to acquire these rights, because you are acquiring them for the Nigerian market, because your intent is to exploit the Nigerian audiences and viewers, we want you also to give back by sublicensing to local Nigerian players that may be interested.”
Idachaba said DStv must now sub-licence the English Premier League to other players in the industry, who may be interested.
“If you bring EPL for instance and say I am the owner of EPL, only me can show EPL and on my platform alone, so whoever wants to watch premier league would have to buy DStv, even if you have Startimes, you cannot watch,” he added.
“If you are on open television, the open terrestrial, where low-income earner, those on the lower social ladder, where they thrive, then they are denied which is class stratification in itself on account of content acquisition.
“We are saying create these windows. If you get the rights, fine, we welcome you, invest in Nigeria, but create channels for sublicensing”
Confronted with the fact that Multichoice, the owners of DStv, don not have the rights to sub-licence the English Premier League (EPL) Idachaba said “whoever is giving them the rights has to understand” that there is a new NBC code.
“If you are going to acquire your rights, you know that in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, we have plainly said you can’t have exclusive right. So whoever, if giving you that right has to understand that he cannot give it to only you in Nigeria.
“If any other Nigerian is interested in that right, they must also discuss at mutually agreed price. Because what has happened over time is that this exclusivity is used to shut other people who are willing to participate. You shut the window.
“How then do you develop an economy? We have thousands of young promising Nigerian entrepreneurs, you know that premium content derives advertising. If these channels are made available at lower window levels through sublicensing to local little operators, they too will be able to attract some level of advertising.
“But Capitalist are greedy, they are extremely self-centered, they don’t want to give it out. But we know it is important for our own economy and creative subsectors that this happens.”
The DG, who has worked at NBC for over 28 years called on Nigerians to “have an ideological, philosophical understanding of the motive of the policy, what does it intend to achieve”.
He said the policy is to “redynamise and redistribute wealth in a way that there would be more participation, more engagement and more opportunities”.
“What makes the capitalist think that by keeping content to themselves, they maximize all the profits? Chances are that by sublicensing, you make more. The more you share to people based on the agreed sum, you are more likely to make more money quickly. It doesn’t reduce your own large share but creates open windows.”