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Hate Speech: FG Directs NBC to Sanction Erring Stations

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Federal government has directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction any radio or television station that broadcasts hate speech, as part of efforts to stem the growing tide of hate speech in the country.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, issued the directive in Abuja on Thursday at the 3rd Annual Lecture Series of the NBC, which also coincides with the 25th Anniversary of the Commission.

“As a matter of fact, the challenges facing the NBC have never become more daunting, considering the increasing propensity of some radio and television stations across the country to turn over their platforms to the purveyors of hate speech. It is the responsibility of the NBC to put these broadcast stations in check before they set the country on fire.

“As the NBC celebrates what is a milestone – a quarter of a century – in its existence, I urge the Commission to redouble its efforts in discharging its mandate. The NBC must ensure a strict adherence to the Broadcasting Code, and errant stations must be sanctioned accordingly to serve as a deterrent. The nation looks up to the NBC to restore sanity to the broadcast industry. The Commission cannot afford to do any less at this critical time. It cannot afford to fail the nation,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed, who cited the ignominious role played by a radio station in fueling the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, which led to the loss of over 800,000 lives in 100 days, charged the NBC not to allow the purveyors of hate speech to lead Nigeria to the path of destruction.

“If you tune into many radio stations, for example, you will be shocked by the things being said, the careless incitement to violence and the level of insensitivity to the multi-religious, multi-ethnic nature of our country. Unfortunately, even some of the hosts of such radio programmes do little or nothing to stop such incitements.  Oftentimes, they are willing collaborators of hate speech campaigners.  This must not be allowed to continue because it is detrimental to the unity and well-being of our country,” he warned.

The Minister re-echoed the recent position of the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo “that it is the resolve of the government that none will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence, especially because when we make these kind of pronouncements and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property, we are no longer in control.”

He said the purveyors of hate speech are also deliberately giving the impression that the Buhari Administration has not achieved anything since assuming office in May 2015, adding, however, that no amount of hatred by the naysayers will obliterate the solid achievements of the Buhari Administration, under a most difficult situation.

“Despite operating with just 45% of the funds available to the immediate past Administration, due largely to the fall in oil prices in our mono-product economy and the failure to save for the rainy day, this government has achieved so much more in so short a time. To put things in perspective, a country that has consistently produced more oil than Nigeria, despite having about one sixth of the Nigerian population, is today embroiled in the worst economic crisis in its history. There is shortage of food, medicine and everything, and there is hyper-inflation.

“With Nigeria being affected by the same downturn in oil prices, coupled with years of monumental mismanagement of the country’s economy and the mindless and maddening looting of its treasury by rapacious public officials, why is Nigeria not in similar crisis as the country in question? My answer is simple: Because Nigeria has a President like Muhammadu Buhari,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

While reeling out the achievements of the Buhari Administration, he said the Administration has brought transparency to governance, with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) enabling the government to monitor its revenue and spending; the modified tax system improving tax collection; the agriculture sector producing food in excess of what obtained one year ago, and the government spent 1.3 trillion Naira on Capital projects in the 2016 budget, the highest in the country’s history.

“Does anyone remember the scandalous fuel subsidies that failed to deliver fuel to filling stations? What about the fertilizer subsidies that never guaranteed the availability of fertilizer to farmers?

Today, fuel queues are gone with the phantom fuel subsidies. Also, thanks to the resuscitation of 11 of the country’s moribund fertilizer blending plants, fertilizer is now available to farmers nationwide. In fact, 6 million bags of fertilizers have been delivered at 30% below the market price, 50,000 jobs created and the 50 billion Naira saved with the stopping of fertilizer subsidy, all because of the revival of those blending plants. Six more are expected to come on stream soon.

“The government is not done. Despite the paucity of funds, the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes are being implemented. The N-Power Volunteers Corps created 200,000 jobs in the first batch and 300,000 more will follow shortly; the Homegrown School Feeding is spreading from state to state, providing nutritious food for school children and employing thousands of cooks; the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) is providing N5,000 monthly to one million vulnerable and poorest Nigerians; while the Micro-credit scheme will provide over a million Nigerians with small loans at very low rates through the Bank of Industry,” the Minister said.

Alhaji Mohammed said despite the cowardly bombing of soft targets, the Boko Haram insurgency is not in resurgence; and that the fight against corruption is unrelenting, with alleged looters forfeiting the proceeds of their ill-gotten wealth, the corrupt being unable to sleep easy while critical infrastructure like roads and railways are being delivered.

Speaking further on the achievements in the economic sector, he said figures just released by the National Bureau of Statistics have revealed a growth of 95 per cent in capital importation/Foreign Direct Investment in the second Quarter of 2017, over the First Quarter and added that Year on Year increased by 43.6 per cent over the Q2 figure in 2016.

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Kwesé Buys Stake in iflix to Broaden SVOD Offering

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Pan-African entertainment company and Econet Wireless subsidiary Kwesé has acquired ‘significant’ stake in Malaysian-based entertainment services firm iflix Africa for an undisclosed amount to strengthen its Streaming or Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service in sub-Saharan Africa.

Strive Masiyiwa, Econet Group Founder and Executive Chairman, remarked: “We are thrilled to deepen our operating partnership with iflix to lead the transformation of media in Africa. Our companies share a mutual passion for innovation, along with a deep understanding of the culture and evolution of digital businesses.

“Mobility in content consumption has grown exponentially in Africa and by partnering with iflix Africa we are ensuring that we are not only taking part in the evolution, but are leading the movement.”

Mark Britt, iflix Group Co-founder and CEO said: “The strengthening of our relationship with Econet Group is a huge milestone for iflix. Following the initial phase of building our business in Africa, we have seen tremendous growth across our operating markets, far exceeding our expectations.”

The pay-as-you-watch pay-TV service is currently available in 13 countries and its Free Sport offering in over 25 countries.

“The operating partnership will see iflix drive Kwesé’s go-to-market mobile delivery in each of its territories,” reads a statement.

In October last year, Kwesé launched its satellite TV service to move more aggressively within the on-demand services space.

The company also confirmed its intention to roll out Over the Top (OTT) services and partner with telecom companies to expand streaming services.

Neo Lekgabo, Chief Marketing Officer at Econet Media said the company had established retail agreements with mobile network operators including Safaricom, Vodafone, MTN, in whose shops the firm would sell its boxes.

iflix entered the African market in June 2017 and has set up operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa.

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DStv Rules as TSTV, Others Chase Shadows

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Over the past decade, various pay TV newcomers have tried to take on DStv, the digital satellite service owned by Multichoice, an arm of South African media giant, Naspers.

 

It is in a battle for a share of the 23 million subscribers that make up Africa’s fast-expanding pay TV market. So far, none has been able to win.

 

According to Quartz, the very authoritative digitally native news outlet, said that the latest to try is TSTV, a startup pay TV company that’s just launched in Nigeria.

 

Perhaps in a sign of concerns around DStv’s dominance as a premium TV distribution platform, Nigeria’s government has already given TSTV its backing by promising a three-year tax holiday to help it get off the ground.

 

From a programming perspective TSTV’s hopes of traction are largely hinged on offering popular premium sports content, one of the key elements satellite and cable TV distributors have used to build loyal (and at times, resentful) subscribers around the world.

 

But there’s just one problem with TSTV’s ambitions: it’s unclear if the company has any agreements to broadcast the most popular content of them all, the English Premier League (EPL).

 

TSTV lists beIN sports channels (which broadcasts the EPL in North Africa) as part of its programming package but that’s been shrouded in controversy with a purported letter from beIN refuting any agreement with TSTV making the rounds on social media in Nigeria.

 

beIN did not respond to Quartz’s emails seeking to clarify the authenticity of the letter but TSTV has denied infringing on beIN’s rights.

TSTV did not respond to Quartz’s email enquiries.

 

But despite the latest competition in Africa’s largest market, DStv is likely to retain its hold there as it has elsewhere.

 

Its dominance is down to a mix of its diverse content portfolio which range from exclusive rights to popular sports leagues to long-running investment in entertainment and movie content.

 

Backed by Naspers, Africa’s most valuable company with a market cap over $100 billion, very few competitors can match DStv’s deep pockets.

 

With more than 12 million subscribers DStv’s market share exceeds 50%, says Sa Eva Nebie, research analyst with Dataxis, a market research firm.

 

Its hold on broadcast rights of the EPL, arguably the most watched sports league in Africa, is an example of this. As the the value of EPL’s broadcast rights has risen sharply along with its global popularity in recent years, that cost presents a barrier to gaining market share for new entrants.

 

DStv has no such problem. Last year, it paid £296 million to secure rights to broadcast EPL in sub-Saharan Africa from 2016 to 2019, and, in April, it extended its agreement until 2022.

 

Its hold on the rights have even come under government scrutiny: in Kenya, regulators have unsuccessfully tried to get the company to resell its rights to local channels to “level the playing field.”

 

But soccer is not the only thing keeping DStv ahead. Its significant investment in original local content, especially the hugely popular Nollywood, through its Africa Magic channels, have also proven a major draw with subscribers that aren’t crazy about soccer.

 

Just as important are its broad offering of high-profile Hollywood content including movies and series as well as popular Indian soaps and Mexican telenovelas.

 

DStv’s dominance is also down to its wider reach and retail infrastructure—thanks to its 20-year head-start in the pay TV business.

 

One way competitors have looked to challenge DStv is by targeting the mass market many of which cannot afford DStv’s more expensive subscription prices.

StarTimes, a Chinese-owned pay TV company, has grown rapidly since the turn of the decade by offering cheaper monthly subscriptions (it’s most expensive bouquet is currently four times cheaper than DStv’s).

 

With prices as low as $2.50, the company has garnered 10 million subscribers across 30 African countries.

 

But DStv has since responded by launching GOtv, a less expensive pay TV company with monthly packages as low as $1. StarTimes offers a mix of news, entertainment and sports content (it will broadcast the FIFA soccer World Cup next year).

 

TSTV isn’t the first Nigeria-owned company that’s tried to test DStv’s hold on the Nigerian market. Back in 2007, newly-launched HiTV beat DStv to EPL rights and looked to build its subscriber base using football as its crown jewel. But that proved inadequate as, with much of its other content considered second-rate, many Nigerians maintained their DStv subscriptions. By 2011, HiTV had shut up shop amid allegations of high-level mismanagement.

 

As sports rights inflation rises quickly and many major African currencies crashing versus the US dollar in the last two years, it has forced DStv, like other African businesses, to raise their prices fairly frequently. This has engendered a lot of resentment with consumers who feel they have no choice but to use the satellite service with all the top programming. Some have called for tougher regulation of DStv.

 

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TVC to Open New Radio Station in Abuja

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Andrew Hanlon, chief executive of TVC Communications, has said that his company will open a new radio station  in Abuja in April.

 

Hanlon who disclosed this when he visited Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture on Tuesday in Abuja.

 

TVC Communications, based in Lagos, owns TVC Nigeria, a national station, Radio Continental and Adaba radio station in Ondo state.

 

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, urged the media to contextualize their reporting so that looters who destroyed Nigeria would not be made to look like its messiahs.

 

The minister did not mention any specific looter.

 

However, he noted that “the same people who presided over yesterday’s looting of our treasury are today posing as would-be saviours of Nigerians””.

 

”We are on a rescue mission. However, the way a section of the media is reporting the challenges facing the country today does not reflect that understanding.

 

“They are making a corrective administration to look like the culprit, to give the impression that the rain started beating us in Nigeria only from May, 29 2015, to play down the challenges that this Administration has faced and which it is successfully tackling.

 

”For example, we did not get to where we are today in just three years. It has taken successive decades of bad governance, unbridled corruption, and lack of probity, a culture of impunity and a near state of anarchy.

 

” These are the ills this Administration inherited and which it has set out to tackle, and this is what the media must reflect in their reporting,” Mohammed said.

 

The Minister said the situation of the country was prevented from becoming worse because of the prudence, probity and the anti-corruption stance of the present administration. He added:

 

“Instead of recession, Nigeria could have had a total collapse of the economy and the power grid could have collapsed.”

 

Mohammed further said that the manner in which the government handled Boko Haram, prevented the insurgents from overrunning Abuja just as it did major towns in the North East.

 

He also said that the country’s “food imports could have tripled what it was pre-May, 29 2015 and the Naira might have been worse hit.”

 

The minister, therefore, challenged the media to do more to educate Nigerians that it was hard to build but easy to destroy, noting that “the same people who presided over yesterday’s looting of our treasury are today posing as would-be saviors of Nigerians.”

 

He said it was the responsibility of the media to educate Nigerians about efforts being made by the administration to rebuild the nation “almost from the scratch with 60 per cent less revenue” while corrupt ones paint the government bad.

 

According to him, apart from low revenue and deflated foreign reserve, the Buhari administration came into being when the Federal Government was borrowing to pay salary and 27 states were owing workers salaries and unable to pay contractors for years.

 

This, he added, was apart from poor infrastructure, low power generation, trillions of naira wasted as fuel subsidy, empty treasury and most parts of Borno under total control of insurgents.

 

”Today, the trend is being reversed and the results are showing as Foreign Reserves is now $42.8 billio, inflation has fallen for 12 consecutive months to 15.13%, N108 billion has been saved from the removal of maintenance fees payable to banks pre-TSA.

 

” The nation is saving N24.7 billion monthly with the full TSA implementation, the elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation N120 billion, capital inflow reached $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2017, almost double the $908 million in the first quarter.

 

“While Nigeria’s stock market is one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent.

 

”Nigeria has also jumped 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.

 

“The administration has repeatedly given bailouts for states to pay salary. “The administration’s Agricultural Revolution is a huge success, with agriculture export up year-on-year by 25%, rice import from Thailand dropping 644,000 metric tonnes to 22,000 metric tonnes and rice farmers growing from 5 million to 12.3 million.

 

” The Home-Grown School Feeding Programme has created jobs for 61,352 cooks, and it is providing 6.4 million school children in 33,981 schools across 20 states with one meal a day,” he said.

 

Mohammed also said that the N-Power programme has employed 200,000 graduates, power generation had reached an all-time high of over 7,000 megawatts and that infrastructural development was going on at a massive rate across the country.

 

He said a free press was indispensable to democracy, and assured that the Buhari administration would not do anything to stifle the press.

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