Nigerian filmmaker sues broadcast regulator over new code

(Lagos-Nigeria) – A Nollywood filmmaker, Charles Uwagbai, has filed a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting Commission over the controversial sixth amendment of the broadcasting code.

According to Punch Newspaper, stakeholders had criticised the recently amended code, which seeks to regulate content exclusivity, enforce content sharing and empower the NBC to determine prices for the sale of content by rights holders to sub-licensees. The fine for hate speech has also been increased from N500,000 to N5m.

Uwagbai, in the suit filed by his counsel, Olumide Fusika, argued that the NBC Act could only be by amendments to the statute that created it, rather than by “approval of the President” of the recommendations of the committee of the NBC.”

He said the notice of the amendment, which was published on several media platforms, was signed by “management” but NBC has no organ known or named “board” and “management”.

According to the filmmaker, there are allegations that “the board and management referred to in the publication were persons outside the commission who had used their political power and connection to capture, subvert and utilise, in aid and promotion of their own business aspirations, the responsibility vested in the defendant to establish and disseminate a national broadcasting code.”

Uwagbai submitted that according to Section 3 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act and Rules 1, 4, 7, 8 and 11 of the first schedule (supplementary provisions relating to the commission) the NBC can only exercise its powers to establish and disseminate the broadcasting code after a resolution is adopted by a quorum of its stipulated members.

He urged the court, therefore, to make a declaration “that the establishment and dissemination of a purported addendum to the 6th edition of the NBC code by the persons or bodies and/or through the process/procedure stated in the preface (at page 6) thereof is unknown to law, and therefore null, void and of no effect whatsoever and howsoever.”

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