Industry Stakeholders Concerned Over Nigeria's Proposed Broadcast Industry Reform
Recently Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, announced several measures the government plans to implement in order to reform the broadcasting industry. These plans include the licensing of web TV, online radio and foreign broadcasters.
Mohammed informed members of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) that the Presidency had approved the move in an effort to bring sanity to the industry.
He added that the licensing was is not an attempt by the administration to gag the media, and he urged the press to self-regulate for the sake of the country and the industry itself.
The licensing terms have not yet been disclosed but the digital rights advocacy group, Paradigm Initiative (PI), has reacted with concern over the potential impact the regulatory measures may have on citizens' access to free, uncensored media.
The Executive Director of PI, Gbenga Sesan, said that in his opinion, the government's plan to license is coming from a place of control. He said that given recent the rise in the clampdown against opposing viewpoints in Nigeria, he believes that this is clearly another way to force broadcasters to self-censor or to keep opposing voices away from Nigeria's broadcast space.
In June 2018, Nigeria's parliament had a long scuffle with media rights advocates after considering a Bill intended to regulate social media.
Though the bill has long been withdrawn, there have still been continued calls by government representatives to regulate social media use in the country.