The Federal Government has increased the fine attached to hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.
Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, made the announcement in Lagos on Tuesday while unveiling the Reviewed Broadcasting Code.
According to Mohammed, the amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive in the wake of the 2019 general elections for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after elections.
He noted that the recommendations were approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the NBC to better perform its regulatory role in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising, and anti-competitive behaviour.
The Minister also mandated broadcast stations to devote airtime for public education on emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.
Explaining that section 2h of the NBC Act empowers the commission to establish and disseminate a National Broadcasting Code, he said, “There are many desirable provisions in the new Broadcasting Code:
“The provisions on Exclusivity and Monopoly will boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves. It will encourage Open Access to premium content.
“The law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts will definitely promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content.
“The law on registration of Web Broadcasting grants the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm us as a nation. Such harms could be in the area of security, protection for minors, protection of human dignity, economic fraud, privacy etc.
“The provision on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at time of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment.
“The provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5 million Naira.”
Mohammed further stated that the Broadcasting Code is not a static document.
“As we often say, broadcasting is dynamic. Therefore, even the 6th Edition of the Code shall be reviewed at the appropriate time. But, as it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria,” he added.
“For those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code, we expect you to meet with the regulator and present your views. As I said, there are opportunities for constant review of the Code, but please note that this latest amendment is signed, sealed and delivered, and we are committed to making it work for the good of the country.”