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Chief Tony Okoroji, Chairman of COSON
In tone with many stakeholders in the creative and broadcast industries calling for a revisit of the recently amended 6th edition of the National Broadcasting Code, Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji, has added his voice to the call.
Chief Okoroji said that the objectives of the code which he believes are to offer more participation of Nigerians in the creation and dissemination of broadcast content are commendable. He however, expressed the belief that the amendments have been crafted in such a manner that they are unworkable and unenforceable which will lead to unending litigation and even significant divestment in the creative space.
Speaking on both the STV flagship public affairs program, News Scope With Patrick Doyle and The Morning Show on Arise News, Chief Okoroji said that the drafters of the amended code might have acted ultra vires their legal mandate as they appear to have strayed beyond their limited powers to draft a subsidiary legislation and usurped the powers of the National Assembly to make laws.
According to Chief Okoroji, some of the provisions may indeed be unconstitutional. He singled out the provisions for exclusivity, advertising and payment of royalties for musical works and sound recordings and said that the provisions in the code might be overreaching as they seem to have ignored the rights of the parties to a contract to agree on their terms.
The COSON Chairman, a much respected expert in Intellectual Property and in his own right, a content producer, expressed concern that the views of a lot of key stakeholder groups who will be affected by the code were not sought before or during the amendment process which he said took place during the Coronavirus lockdown when the movement of many people was restricted.
Others who have called for a revisit of the code to avoid unending litigation include Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, former Chairman of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) who said that a number of the issues have already been better covered by the APCON Code. He called on the Minister of Information to reconstitute the APCON Council which can better deal with the issues related to advertising.
Mr. Chris Ehindero an independent movie producer also expressed the view that the code would kill investments in the creative space at a time the industry was about to start enjoying investments in big productions.
Renowned lawyer, Mr. Richard Akinnola said that the amended code went to the extreme and was too over-bearing, adding that he did not know how the code could withstand legal scrutiny.
The Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) also asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to suspend the implementation of the amended 6th broadcasting code.
On The Morning Show on Arise News, Chief Tony Okoroji said that he suspected that the hold that Multichoice DSTV has on the English Premiership was driving some of the provisions in the revised code. He suggested that rather going it alone, some Nigerian broadcasting stations should pull their resources together and challenge Multichoice DSTV.
He also complained about the recent penchant of Nigerians for attacking Nigerian companies with foreign origins, saying that such behaviour might lead to serious divestment in Nigeria and massive loss of jobs held by Nigerians.
Said Chief Okoroji: “Multichoice DSTV may have originated from South Africa but Multichoice Nigeria is a Nigerian company, the Chairman of the company, Mr. Dewumi Ogunsanya, is a Nigerian, the CEO, Mr. John Ugbe is a Nigerian. Thousands of Nigerians make their living through Multichoice. What do we gain by hounding the company?”
“Alhaji Aliko Dangote is presently investing in many countries across the African continent and providing jobs in these nations. How will Nigerians feel if those investments are threatened simply because the initial promoter of the business is a Nigerian?”