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BREAKING: FG jerks up hate speech fine from N500k to N5m

The Federal Government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

The Federal Government also mandated broadcast stations to devote airtime for public education and enlightenment on emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this known, in Lagos, on Tuesday, while unveiling the Reviewed Broadcasting Code.

The Federal Government’s position on hate speech 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, August 4, 2020’.

According to the statement made available on the social media platforms of the ministry, the minister 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 (NBC) as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the elections.

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The minister noted that the recommendations were approved by the President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the NBC to perform its regulatory role better mostly in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising, and anti-competitive behaviour.

Lai 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 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.

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“The provisions on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies: This provision obviously mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at time 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.

 “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.

“Our intention remains the good of the country. We need to catalyse the growth of the local industry. We need to create jobs for

our teeming creative youths. The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of

attaining this. That’s why we will not waver.

“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.”