It’s been confirmed that the implications of the just-released 6th Edition of the NBC Code for Netflix and Amazon, Africa Magic and iROKOtv, would be the need to withhold further investments in Nigeria.
This is because the new NBC Code is designed to end exclusivity to broadcast rights. This means that it compels resale or sub-licensing to other broadcasters, including their direct competitors. On the new NBC Code, Vanguard newspapers reported the argument from an investor’s perspective.
This reform comes after the Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance sought to impose taxes on foreign and digital service provides including Netflix and Amazon.
The new NBC code does not allow for exclusive rights to intellectual property. It is illegal and annulled to exclusively own rights to created content. Instead, it commands content sub-licensing and regulation of prices at which content is sub-licensed.
In industry opinion, the sections 9.0.1 to 9.0.3 of the NBC Code 2020 6th Edition represent a direct assault to the investors as it makes the possibility of reaping dividends on their investment quite difficult.
Netflix, Amazon, Africa Magic, and IrokoTV are known for acquiring exclusive rights to the content and this is why they are most affected by the NBC directives. These companies have invested heavily in the acquisition of Nigerian content and are being required to sell to competitors even when they have not recovered their investment.
The NBC Codes demands that investors who have funded the production of hit movies, TV series, and shows, will be forced to sub-license those programme whether they have made a profit or not.
This affront by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, investors believe, is a possible plot by the NBC to commercialize the private enterprise and turn it to state property. NBC seeks to determine the scale of returns on investment that the investors would reap.
Jason Njoku, CEO of iROKOtv tweeted:
“Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in making exclusivity illegal, compelling sub-licensing of content and regulating price, are effectively turning the private enterprise into state property. Interference Distorts Markets. If implemented, this 100% destroys PayTV in Nigeria”
In the past, investors have put their money in content that made them unique. For some, their patronage was based on the fact that this content cannot be found elsewhere except on their platform. The NBC Code takes that away.
Furthermore, the NBC Code allows 20% of the weekly broadcast to public service programmes on emergencies, elections, current trends, and issues. According to section 9,4,6 of the NBC Code;
“Such programs shall be given preeminence during family belt and shall not be less than 120 minutes per transmission day.”
Further down in section 6.2.10, the NBC Code declares;
“No Prime Foreign Sports Content shall be transmitted in the Nigerian territory unless the owner of such content has also acquired Prime Local Sports Content of the same category with a minimum of 30% of the cost of acquiring the Prime Foreign Sports Content.”
While these reforms may be seen politically as a favour for the local content enthusiasts, it also stifles the advancement and could force potentially beneficial investors out of the country. With the NBC Code and the plan to impose taxes on foreign services, many investors may be forced to pull out of the country.