The House of Representatives yesterday passed a bill that seeks to liberalise the broadcast industry in Nigeria particularly as it affects increased opportunities for Nigerians to participate in the industry, promote competition and efficiency.
The bill, which passed second reading and was referred to the Committee on Rules and Business, according to the sponsor, Hon.
A’ishatu Ahmed, when eventually passed into law would not only break the monopoly currently enjoyed by some foreign agencies but subsequently opens up the space and creates opportunities for indigenous participation as well as employment options for Nigerians.
Honourable A’ishatu, while leading debate on the need to amend the NBC Act that came into effect in 1972, said the lack of level playing field, domination of the broadcast industry by foreign agencies and the high cost of premium for cable television services, makes amendment to the act inevitable noting that the act at present stiffens the industry making it impossible for Nigerians to compete with the foreigners who have both logistics and experienced to dominate the industry.
Though Honourable Eziuche Ubani had opposed the Bill, on the grounds that cable broadcasting is big business that requires sufficient resources to operate and imposes high premium on consumers and should therefore not be seen as a patriotic social service, several other contributors to the debate were of the view that the exclusive rights, which organisations like the DSTV enjoys should be broken through liberalisation of the enabling act to promote competition, efficiency and expanded opportunities for participation of Nigerians in the world markers.
According to Honourable Leo Ogor, the Deputy Leader, the Bill seeks to address “unacceptable monopoly” adding that the 1972 act created ample chance for foreigners with the necessary logistics muscles to “take advantage of our porous laws to impose high service charges on Nigerians.
He appealed to members to look beyond the subject matter of the bill instead focus on the huge benefits the liberalisation of the industry would bring about as had the liberalisation of the telecommunication sector.
When the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided in the absence of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, put it to vote an overwhelming majority voted in favour of the bill and he referred it to the Committee on Rules and Business for subsequent consideration.
Meanwhile, a Bill for an act to repeal the Traffic Warden Act, 1975 and to provide for the establishment of Traffic Warden Service and for other Matters connected thereto, sponsored by Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Media, Hon. Victor Ogene, also passed second reading and was referred to the Committee on Police Affairs and Justice.