The Federal Government on Tuesday raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to 5 million naira, The PUNCH has learned.
The government also mandated broadcast stations to devote airtime for public education on emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, made this known in Lagos on Tuesday while unveiling the Reviewed Broadcasting Code.
This was contained in a statement by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, titled, ‘Remarks By The Hon. Minister Of Information And Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, At The Unveiling Of The Reviewed Broadcasting Code In Lagos On Tuesday, Aug. 4th, 2020’.
According to the statement made available on the verified social media platforms of the ministry, Mohammed said the amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive in the wake of the 2019 general elections for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after elections.
The minister noted that the recommendations were approved by the President, Major General Mohammed Buhari (retd.), to reposition the NBC to better perform its regulatory role in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising, and anti-competitive behavior.
Mohammed, who explained that section 2h of the NBC Act empowers the commission to establish and disseminate a National Broadcasting Code, said, “There are many desirable provisions in the new Broadcasting Code:
“The provisions on Exclusivity and Monopoly will boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves. It will encourage Open Access to premium content.
“The law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts will definitely promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content.
“The law on the registration of Web Broadcasting grants the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm us as a nation. Such harms could be in the area of security, protection for minors, protection of human dignity, economic fraud, privacy, etc.
“The provision on the responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at times of national emergencies – like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment.
“The provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5 million Naira.”
He added, “The Broadcasting Code is not a static document. As we often say, broadcasting is dynamic. Therefore, even the 6th Edition of the Code shall be reviewed at the appropriate time. But, as it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria.
“For those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code, we expect you to meet with the regulator and present your views. As I said, there are opportunities for constant review of the Code, but please note that this latest amendment is signed, sealed, and delivered, and we are committed to making it work for the good of the country.”