The Federal Government of Nigeria has asked the House of Representatives to amend the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) act to empower the agency to regulate social and online media.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated this on Wednesday, June 16, during a public hearing organized by the house committee on information, national orientation, ethics and values on a bill to amend the NBC act.
Section two (b) of the NBC act states:
“(1) The Commission shall have [the] responsibility of: Receiving, processing and considering applications for the establishment, ownership or operation of radio and television stations including (i) cable television services, direct satellite broadcast and any other medium of broadcasting.”
The Minister requested that the commission be allowed to regulate the online media in addition to other channels of broadcasting.
“I want to add here specifically that internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have a responsibility to monitor contents, including Twitter,” Lai said.
This request came days after NBC asked all social media platforms and online broadcasting service providers operating in Nigeria to apply for a broadcast licence.
At the public hearing, media stakeholders however kicked against the move and asked the house panel to make NBC more independent of the minister of information.
While airing his opinion at the public hearing, the executive director of the Institute for Media and Society, Akin Akingbulu, asserted that the commission should not receive directives from the minister.
“The power to give directives to the commission, vested in the minister of information in section six should be removed and replaced with powers which include policy formulation for the broadcasting sector,” he said.
He further added that the minister should be involved in the “negotiation of international agreements, notifying the commission of the policy direction of government and ensuring that the independence of the commission is protected at all times.”