The Federal Government has revealed plans to regulate streaming and content providers such as Netflix, arguing that they can be exploited to “cause chaos” and undermine Nigeria’s democratic processes.
During a two-day conference, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and industry stakeholders discussed “the implication of Nigeria censorship laws and regulatory framework for Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming services and content providers in Nigeria.”
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made the disclosure, adding that the popularity and demand of streaming services in Nigeria has grown with the COVID-19 pandemic, “hence its regulation.”
The minister who was represented by the Director, Information, and Technology in the ministry, Comfort Ajiboye, reiterated his age-long bias that social media and streaming services can be used “to cause chaos and undermine democratic processes.”
The conference was organized by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) on Wednesday in Lagos, along with practitioners and stakeholders in the entertainment and creative industry.
In his opening address, Adedayo Thomas, Executive Director and CEO of the NFVCB, said the conference was to brainstorm on creating policies to regulate streamers and content providers in Nigeria.
“With over 50 percent internet penetration, it has become imperative to convene this conference to bring together stakeholders and legislators in a conversation so as to come up with crystal policies on the regulation of streamers and content providers,” Thomas said.
The NFVCB helmsman said streaming service providers were unable to self-regulate, the reason why their operations were now being discussed at the conference with the theme, “Nigeria Digital Content Regulation”.
Journalist Thomas, however, pledged that “the goal of regulation is not to stifle creativity but to create sanity and encourage healthy competition for socio-economic gains.”
At the conference as a panelist was Netflix Director of Public Policy, Sub-Saharan Africa, Shola Sanni.
Participants include members of the various Guilds in Nollywood which included the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN).
Others are the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Theatre and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), among others.
Also were representatives of local and international streaming services, Free To Air (FTA), Pay-TV operators, and other content creators.