The federal government says it is planning regulations for streaming and content providers such as Netflix, worried that they can be used to “cause chaos” and undermine Nigeria’s democratic processes.
At a two-day conference, the government and industry stakeholders discussed “the implication of Nigeria censorship laws and regulatory framework for Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming services and content providers in Nigeria.”
Speaking, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the popularity and demand of streaming services in Nigeria increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, “hence its regulation.”
Represented by Comfort Ajiboye, Director, Information and Technology in the ministry, Mr Mohammed reiterated his age-long bias that social media and streaming services can be used “to cause chaos and undermine democratic processes.”
The conference was organised by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) on Wednesday in Lagos, along with practitioners and stakeholders in the entertainment and creative industry.
In his opening address, Adedayo Thomas, Executive Director and CEO of the NFVCB, said the conference was to brainstorm on creating policies to regulate streamers and content providers in Nigeria.
“With over 50 per cent internet penetration, it has become imperative to convene this conference to bring together stakeholders and legislators in a conversation to come up with crystal policies on the regulation of streamers and content providers,” Mr Thomas said.
Mr Thomas said streaming service providers were unable to self-regulate, the reason why their operations were now being discussed at the conference with the theme, “Nigeria Digital Content Regulation”.
The NFVCB boss, however, promised that “the goal of regulation is not to stifle creativity but to create sanity and encourage healthy competition for socio-economic gains.”
At the conference as a panellist was Netflix Director of Public Policy, Sub-Saharan Africa, Shola Sanni.
Participants include members of the various Guilds in Nollywood which included the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN).
Others are the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Theatre and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), among others.
Also were representatives of local and international streaming services, Free To Air (FTA), Pay TV operators and other content creators.