By John Ikani
The Federal Government has asked the House of Representatives to include internet broadcasting under the control of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The request which was made by Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed was contained in his submission at the public hearing into a bill to amend the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission Act organised by the House Committees in Information, Ethics and Values.
Making his submission, Mohammed said all online and internet broadcasting entities should be included in section two (c) of the bill.
“I want to add that internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in the bill,” Mr Mohammed said.
What this means
The bill, if passed with the recommendation of Mr Mohammed, online broadcasting entities will have to get approval from the NBC before operating.
They would also be mandated to act within the control of the Nigerian government.
Opposing the inclusion of online digital platforms in the bill, Executive Director of the Institute of Media and Societies, Akin Akingbulu said it would further stifle the civic space.
According to him, “The inclusion of the following among categories of broadcasting services licences will be injurious to the civics space, freedom of expression and media freedom in Nigeria,” he said.
While recommending that section 23, which gives the information minister powers to participate in the making of regulations should be expunged, Akingbulu argued that the involvement of the minister will turn NBC into a tool for political interference.
“The power to give directives to the commission, vested in the minister of information in section six should be removed and replaced with powers which include policy formulation for the broadcasting sector, the negotiation of international agreements, notification of the policy direction of government and ensuring that the independence of the commission is protected at all times,” Mr Akingbulu stated.