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MRA Inducts Voice of Nigeria into FOI ‘Hall of Shame’

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Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has named the Voice of Nigeria (VON) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, accusing it of failing to promote the FOI Act and ensuring its effective implementation as a public service media organisation as well as non-compliance with its obligations under the Act as a public institution.

 

In a statement in Lagos, Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA’s director of Programmes, noted that the Voice of Nigeria, as a national radio station established to inform the world on national issues and developments, should ordinarily be at the forefront of promoting the FOI Act and seeking compliance with the provisions of the Law by other public institutions as this would evidently enhance its performance of its statutory functions as well as enable it discharge its duties with greater ease and effectiveness.

 

He, however, expressed disappointment that the station not only failed to promote the Act or advocate compliance by other public institutions, but has itself refused to comply with its obligations under the Act.

 

The Voice of Nigeria is the second Federal Government-owned media institution to be inducted into the FOI Hall of Shame since the inception of the programme in 2017, following the conferment of the dubious award on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) on September 11, 2017 for similarly failing to promote the Act, ensure its effective implementation and for its non-compliance with its obligations under the Act as a public institution.

 

The objectives of the Voice of Nigeria, as provided in the Act establishing it, are to project Nigeria’s positive image externally, to inform the world on national and African issues and developments, to change the perspectives of the world on Nigeria and the black world, to unite Africa and the black world and to engender positive contribution of Africans in the Diaspora to the growth and development of the continent.

 

Mr. Longe said there was no doubt that the institution’s lack of transparency and accountability had eroded public trust and confidence in it, which would affect its credibility and ultimately, its ability to deliver on its statutory mandate.

 

According to him, “being a national radio network broadcasting in seven languages, including English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, French, Arabic, Kiswahili and Fulfulde, the Voice of Nigeria is uniquely positioned to overcome the language limitation that most other media organizations have and be able to promote the Act among Nigerians of different linguistic backgrounds. Instead, this national broadcaster has itself been consistently in blatant disregard of its statutory duties and obligations as a public institution covered by the Act, thereby undermining its implementation and effectiveness.”

 

Mr. Longe stressed that “all public institutions established by Law, including the Voice of Nigeria, are expected to proactively disclose certain types of information listed in Section 2(3) (a) to (f) of the FOI Act, by various means including print, electronic and online sources. But the Voice of Nigeria has not fulfilled its proactive disclosure obligations under Section 2 of the Act as it has not published the itemized categories of information either on its website or anywhere else, as it is required to do by the FOI Act.”

 

He described the failure of the Voice of Nigeria to designate an official of the institution to whom requests for information by members of the public should be sent as well as its failure to proactively publish the title and address of such an officer as an inexcusable breach of the provisions of the FOI Act, particularly in the light of repeated demands by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation issued to all public institutions to appoint such officials and send their details to the Federal Ministry of Justice, which is the coordinating institution for matters related to the implementation of the Act.

 

Mr. Longe also noted that although Section 13 of the FOI Act requires all public institutions to ensure the provision of appropriate training for their officials on the public’s right to access information and records held by the government or public institutions as well as to ensure the effective implementation of the Act, the Voice of Nigeria had not organized any such training for its officials since the Act was passed into Law.

 

He observed that over the last seven years, the Voice of Nigeria has consistently failed to comply with its obligation under Section 29 of the FOI Act, which requires each public institution to submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation, on or before February 1 of each year, a report covering the preceding fiscal year of its implementation of the Act. He stressed that the Voice of Nigeria had not submitted any such report for any year since 2011.

 

Mr. Longe said: “Such egregious violation of the clear provisions of the Law by a public institution which should know better is certainly unacceptable. The relevant authorities of the Federal Government must make clear that they do not condone such acts of impunity and take urgent steps to rein in public institutions such as the Voice of Nigeria, which disdainfully disregard the Laws of the Land.”

 

Launched on July 3, 2017, the FOI Hall of Shame spotlights on a weekly basis public officials or institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances and decisions.

 

 

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NBC to Withdraw Idle STB Manufacturing Licenses

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National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has asked all the Set Top Box (STB) manufacturers to deliver or risk punitive sanctions.

 

STB manufacturer makes set top box- a hardware device that allows a digital signal to be received, decoded and displayed on a television.

 

The Commission was particularly disturbed that seven out of 13 authorised STB manufactures are yet to set up their factories for the manufacturing of the boxes, six years after issuance of the licences, thereby slowing the Digital Switch Over (DSO), project.

 

Mr. Modibbo Kawu, director-general of the Commission, described the failure of the seven STB licensees as worrisome.

 

“The nation has come to the stage of the transition that we must ask ourselves what the real state of the manufacture of Set Top Boxes is. As it is, the Commission would no longer condone any act of indolence on the part of the STB manufacturers that constitute a clog in the wheel of progress of the DSO.

 

“Already, questions are being asked. STBs are perpetually in short supply or are unavailable, even in the cities where we have launched. I am inundated with daily enquiries from all over the country about the non-availability of boxes; these are boxes that we paid for which should have been supplied, instead, they bring them to locations of launches to sell, which is most unethical. We are considering the authorisation of more players to augment the apparent lack of capacity to fill demand. We cannot continue dual illumination or simulcast forever, because the cost is choking.”

 

On remedying the situation, Kawu disclosed: “We are considering the authorisation of more players to augment the apparent lack of capacity to fill demand. Two things would be the basis of such authorisation. First, they have to get production capacities up to a reasonable level within a mutually agreed timeline and secondly, whoever is eventually authorised to produce boxes would do so, on the condition that they must set up production plants within Nigeria, in line with our national objectives of jobs creation and technology transfer.”

 

He said NBC is ready to hear from the STB licensees and dissect their challenges with a view to addressing them,

 

“The Commission is determined to tackle the funding challenge head-on by seeking the intervention of the Bank of Industry, BoI. We are here to listen to you and to hear your challenges, so that we can collectively chart a future.

 

“We are interested in knowing how far you have gone with the plan to deploy a second conditional access system. BoI will give insights on how we can finance our businesses, if we are truly committed to the production of STBs for the Nigerian DSO. This is vital, since it has become clear to all stakeholders, that there might be no more funding for the supply of subsidized boxes,” Kawu said.

 

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NBC Accuses Daar Communications of Violation, Stops FM Radio

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National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has ordered Daar Communications Plc, owners of AIT and Raypower to stop further test transmission of its FM radio signals in Yola until normal statutory approvals have been requested by Daar Communications Plc and issued by the NBC.

 

A statement from NBC on Monday said the commission gave the directive after it noted that the station went ahead and started test transmission even after its operatives had been reminded by the NBC, Yola State office, of the need to obtain the necessary statutory approvals as stipulated in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code before such a test transmission could commence.

‘’The Commission noted that it is regrettable that Daar Communication, as an old licensee of the Commission, will fail to follow due process and would proceed on test transmission on Sunday, April 22, 2018, without clearance from the NBC.

 

‘’For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission hereby draws the attention of all, to the following sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code:

 

‘’Section 12.14.4.6 which states thus:

 

“In all cases, a representative of the Commission shall be required for the testing to be conducted on new transmitting equipment.”

 

NBC called on all broadcasters to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the National Broadcasting Act CAP N11 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

 

 

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Ericsson MediaFirst TV Platform Available on Amlogic’s Set top Box Chipset

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Next-generation TV operators can cost-effectively take their customers to new levels of personalized consumer experience satisfaction as a result of collaboration between Ericsson Media Solutions and Amlogic to make Ericsson’s MediaFirst middleware available via Amlogic’s chipsets.

Supported by its high performance central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), the integration of Amlogic’s S905X chipset solution enables consumers to speedily access content, including High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, across MediaFirst set-top-boxes.

Operators can also provide increased choice of content, as well as boosting engagement and personalization experiences for customers.

Ericsson Media Solutions is a leading provider of personalized and converged multiscreen TV solutions for pay TV operators.

Amlogic is a leading provider of System-On-Chip (SOC) for video streaming and smart home devices. Amlogic’s S905X chipset is operational in OTT and IP scenarios with major operators worldwide, offering high-end features at an optimized price. The integration with the MediaFirst middleware provides more choice and flexibility to operators.

The solution will be demonstrated by Ericsson Media Solutions at NAB Show 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada, from April 7-12. It offers advanced media processing that enables operators to deliver high quality user experiences by utilizing complex HDR schemes alongside its high-performance CPU and GPU.

Advanced security technologies ensure that high value content is securely managed to meet the needs of content owners worldwide. The solution is already commercially available through most MediaFirst set-top-box manufacturers.

Ericsson Media Solutions’ MediaFirst TV Platform is an end-to-end media platform for the creation, management, and delivery of next-generation Pay TV. Built using leading-edge cloud-based architecture, it enables operators and content providers to deliver seamless, personalized and intuitive TV experiences to consumers anytime, anywhere and on any device.

James Xie, VP, Corporate Business Strategy, Amlogic, says: “The S905X chipset is ideally designed to meet operators’ requirements and to enable a high-quality user experience with MediaFirst. MediaFirst takes full advantage of our SOC capabilities to deliver a seamless TV experience to operators at price points not possible using current solutions.”

Marc Stauffacher, Head of Solution Area TV Platforms, Ericsson Media Solutions says: “Amlogic chipsets deliver an excellent user experience across all MediaFirst use cases, including Pay TV in-home and OTT services.

By pre-integrating the MediaFirst TV Platform client with Amlogic we are adding more choice and value to Ericsson Media Solutions’ holistic MediaFirst ecosystem, enabling our global partner operators to rapidly go to market.”

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