The Federal Government asked for the authority to regulate private broadcasting in the country via the internet and other online sources on Wednesday, claiming that the government has a responsibility to oversee broadcast material.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, said the National Assembly should amend the existing NBC law to include internet broadcast and all online media broadcast in the country, speaking at a public hearing on a bill to amend the National Broadcasting Act organized by the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values.
However, industry players, like as the Institute for Media and Society, International Press Centre and Centre for Media Law and Advocacy said the inclusion of internet broadcast and online media to the category of broadcast service licenses will be injurious to the civic space, freedom of expression and media freedom.
However, Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila said when passed the contents of the bill will substantially influence the creation of media content in the country.
But the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria who are the major beneficiaries of the regulations of the National Broadcasting Commission was conspicuously missing at the public hearing.
The Minister was reacting to the provisions of section 2c of proposed law which listed the categories of licenses to be granted which include Cable television Services, Direct Satellite broadcast, Direct to Home, IPTV, Radio, EPG and Digital Terrestrial television; radio and television stations owned, stablish or operated by the federal, state and local governments, Broadcast signal distribution, Online broadcast, community broadcasting, public service broadcasting, among others.
He said “I want to add here specifically that internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content, including twitter.”