The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has warned cable television service operators to respect protected signals of broadcasting organisations in line with the copyright law, international treaties and global best practices.
The warning was issued by NCC Director-General, Mr. John Asein, in Abuja during a recent interactive session with representatives of Association of Cable Operators of Nigeria (ACON) led by its General-Secretary, Mr. Kalada Wilson. This was contained in a statement signed by Vincent Oyeleso, NCC Director of Public Affairs.
“We will not tolerate broadcast piracy in whatever form. While the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is the best interpreter of its own broadcast code, the NCC will continue to monitor the broadcast space and enforce respect for copyright in accordance with the copyright law and international treaties to which Nigeria is signatory,” the statement quoted Asein as saying.
He added that any broadcaster found transmitting signals without rights will be apprehended and prosecuted as a broadcast pirate. “It does not matter who the broadcaster is. We have received complaints from several right owners, including the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Star Times, MultiChoice and the Commission will henceforth take measures to ensure that broadcast rights are protected,” he warned.
Mr. Asein stated that the NCC Is aligned with the Federal Government’s position of protecting the interest of Nigerians and legitimate foreign investors to ensure that all parties benefit from the multilateral agreements that the country is signatory to.
The Director-General noted that the Commission would work with the National Broadcasting Commission to ensure that competition is not stifled and encourage a business environment that would guarantee the growth of local TV operators.
“We are in the era of globalisation. While we welcome and protect foreign investors, we must also protect the national economic interest of Nigeria. NCC will always take the path that our interests are well protected in copyright law and in the interests of the local industries. We will not do anything inimical to our national interest but we should also be mindful of our international posture, bearing in mind that foreign interests registered in Nigeria enjoy the same protection as local industries”, he noted.
General-Secretary of ACON, Mr. Kalada Wilson, called on NCC to intervene in the operations of the broadcast industry to safeguard the survival of local cable operators.
Highlighting some of the challenges facing the cable operators in view of the evolving technology from analogue to digital transmission, the ACON General-Secretary said following directives from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the cable operators had to give up their analogue frequency and spectrum in the interest of the nation to migrate to the Direct Digital Transmission Service (DDTS) in line with global best practices. He lamented the monopoly of some foreign cable operators in the country which he described as challenging to their business.
Responding, the DG NCC stated that there was need first to know all the cable operators in the broadcast space and to identify their exclusive rights in order to address the challenges facing them. He assured that NCC would ensure that rights were protected by adopting models that would grow the industry while discouraging activities that undermine Nigeria’s national economic interests.
In his remarks, Mr. Mohammed Bawa, an ACON delegate, expressed happiness with the dynamism in NCC under the present dispensation and assured that ACON would be on the side of the law.
He indicated the readiness of the Association to hold strategic sessions with the NCC Management to ensure a better understanding of the workings of the digital switchover.