By Our Reporters
Abuja (Precise Post) – For allegedly being a judge in its own case and taking politically- motivated decisions that have adversely affected Nigeria’s broadcast industry, the International Press Centre (IPC) and Centre for Media Law and Advocacy has asked the House of Representatives to curtail the powers of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The two media-based non-governmental organisations also asked the House to strip the NBC of the power to fix price for Pay-TV outfits like DSTV and others in the country.
These were the highlights of their joint presentation to the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values during a public hearing on a bill to end the NBC Act in Abuja.
IPC’s Executive Director Lanre Arogundade said the independence of the NBC had seriously been eroded, adding that the amendment been proposed should be able to restore the independence of the commission.
Arogundade said fixing tariffs arbitrarily leads to excessive pricing that could discourage investment in the sector and hence job losses.
He stressed that the regulatory mechanisms of the broadcast sector must entail independence for the regulator while also ensuring that such regulation neither constitutes an obstacle to the exercise of the right to media freedom and freedom of expression.
He said provisions of the new law must not encourage the regulator to become a behemoth whose powers and conduct cannot be questioned.
He emphasised that unlike other regulatory institutions such as the National Communications Commission (NCC), the appointment of the board, including the director-general, is not subject to the confirmation of the National Assembly.
He maintained that the conduct of the NBC overtime presented it as an extension of the office of the Minister of Information and Culture.
On broadcasting code, Arogundade said: ”Our other objections to the two sub-sections are that they represent a usurpation of the functions of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Act (FCCPC Act), which in our well-considered view already has adequate provisions to deal with the often contentious issue of competition and pricing in Nigeria.”
”The FCCPC is indeed more technically equipped to handle the kind of matters being dabbled into here, being a specialised agency established for specific purposes;
“Fixing tariffs arbitrarily could lead to excessive pricing that has the potential of discouraging investment in the sector and the attendant job losses.”
“Giving the NBC the sole right over tariff issues which cannot be interfered with could be interpreted as an ouster clause that arrogates to it arbitrary powers that cannot be challenged even in the court of law.
“The two sub-sections highlighted above should be removed from the proposed amendment bill of the NBC Act.”