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The Federal Government is seeking power to license and regulate private broadcasting in the country using the internet and other online outlet.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the submission at a public hearing on a bill to amend the National Broadcasting Act organised by the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values.
He argued that the National Assembly should amend the NBC law to grant it powers to license internet broadcast and all online media broadcast in the country.
The minister said: “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.”
But media practitioners and media based groups including the Institute for Media and Society and the International Press Centre said the inclusion of internet broadcast and online media to the category of broadcast services to be licensed will be injurious to the civic space, freedom of expression and media freedom.
Akin Akingbulu, executive director of the Institute for Media and Society, said 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 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.”
In their joint submission, the International Press Centre (IPC) and the Centre for Media Law and Advocacy said the appointment of the NBC board should be subject to the confirmation of the national assembly.
“The conduct of the NBC has over time presented it as an extension of the minister of information and culture which rarely acts independently,” they said