What online TV and radio regulations means for Nigeria

online tv

In the last five years, online video streaming, online TV and radio (a variant called podcast) have changed the way we consume contents.

As a matter fact, video is now representing close to 70% of all digital media contents consumed anywhere in the world. With the ubiquitous nature of 4G and the incoming of 5G networks, online TV, radio and video streaming platforms could represent as much as 90% of digital media contents.

As we plan to explore further opportunities in digital media video and contents, there are new regulatory oversights coming our way and it could go a long way to shape the face of video-oriented contents in Nigeria.

A few weeks ago, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed disclosed the intention of the federal government to fully regulate online TV (WebTVs) and radio stations.

Apparently, the incoming regulation of WebTVs and online radio stations which will also cover foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria is aimed at bringing ‘sanity into this industry,’ said the government. There are also yet to be disclosed but wide-ranging of reforms planned for the broadcast industry at large.

Without trying in any way to predict the future actions of government or specifics of the regulation, here is how we think the regulation could play out and its attendant consequences.

We currently have virtually all the existing radio stations in Nigeria streaming their live broadcast online. We also have few of the TV stations streaming their content online as well. They could all be required to apply for licenses to stream their broadcast online. We are not clear how this can be done, but it is easier for the government to reign in registered TV and radio broadcasters.

A major point to note is that if the cost of these licenses is significantly expensive, we could see existing radio stations cutting-off their online versions while others could simply pass on the costs to advertisers by simply adjusting their rates.

As for foreign TV and radio stations, while many TV stations across Europe, Americas and Asia do not explicitly stream their broadcast online, there are several TV and radio stations (mostly via Tune-in app for radio) who provide a free version of their contents online. it is not clear how the government would compel them to apply for licenses. We foresee major broadcast giants simply disabling Nigerian IP addresses (Internet Protocols) from viewing their contents.

While the regulation could go a long way to deal a huge blow to fake news merchants and other means of misinformation, we are of the opinion that the regulation should be properly reviewed in order not to stifle innovation and creativity. The regulation if not well-thought-out could lead to unintended consequences thereby making it counter-productive.

First published on NEXTGEN, a weekly newsletter of SBI Media Limited