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They can be used to cause chaos’ — FG to regulate Netflix, content providers

The federal government has revealed it is considering measures to regulate streaming and content providers such as Netflix in Nigeria.

According to NAN, Adedayo Thomas, executive director of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), announced this at a two-day conference in Lagos.

The conference, which featured practitioners and stakeholders in the creative industry, focused on the implication of Nigeria’s censorship laws and regulatory framework for over-the-top (OTT) streaming services and content providers in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, Thomas said there was a need to give form, structure, balance, and protection to digital content consumption so as not to lose the current value and forecast.

“The shift from traditional to digital content consumption and the operations of national and international OTT streaming services continue to impact on the growth of local film industry in Nigeria,” he said.

“With over 50 per cent internet penetration, it has become imperative to convene this conference to bring together stakeholders and legislators in a conversation so as to come up with crystal policies on the regulation of streamers and content providers.”

The NFVCB boss added that the digital content market would not survive on self-regulation, hence the need to subject its operations to effective statutory regulations.

He said the measure was key to sanitise the industry and also to create an equal platform for both local and foreign actors to thrive.

“The goal of regulation is not to stifle creativity but to create sanity and encourage healthy competition for socio-economic gains,” he said.

In his address, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said social media and streaming services could be a tool “to cause chaos and undermine democratic processes” if left unchecked.

The minister, who was represented by Comfort Ajiboye, director of information and technology in the ministry, said that OTT platforms were under the government’s lens for a while, following ongoing global discussions for its regulation.

“The popularity of OTT in Nigeria has drastically increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors fueling its demand even further and hence its regulation,” he said.

“Despite the benefit of the content, there have been negative impact of the content on the society and  also competition with the local industries within the country.

“Social media and streaming services despite their advantages can be a tool to cause chaos and undermine democratic processes.”

At a panel session, Shola Sanni, Netflix director of public policy in Sub-Sahara Africa, said the OTT streaming service works hand-in-hand with independent producers in a variety of contexts in Africa.

“In Nigeria, this translates to significant investment in local content which creates new opportunities, ” she said.

 

-News Agency

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