The Federal government has taken the first steps in its quest to regulate private broadcasting in the country using the internet and other online outlets, saying it has the obligation to do so.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke at a public hearing preceding a bill to amend the National Broadcasting Act organsied by the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, said the National Assembly should amend the existing NBC law to include internet broadcasting and all online media broadcast in the country.
But stakeholders in the industry, including the Institute for Media and Society, International Press Centre and Centre for Media Law and Advocacy argued that the inclusion of internet broadcast and online media to the category of broadcast service licenses will be injurious to the civic space, freedom of expression and media freedom.
However, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said when passed the contents of the bill will substantially influence the creation of media content in the country.
But the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), the major beneficiaries of the regulations of the National Broadcasting Commission, was conspicuously missing at the public hearing.
The minister was reacting to the provisions of section 2c of proposed law, which listed the categories of licenses to be granted which include Cable television services, Direct Satellite broadcast, Direct to Home, IPTV, Radio, EPG and Digital Terrestrial television; radio and television stations owned, established or operated by the Federal, state and local governments, broadcast signal distribution, online broadcast, community broadcasting, public service broadcasting, among others.
He said: “I want to add here specifically that internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have the responsibility to monitor content, including twitter.”