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NBC Code: Nollywood’s Chris Ihidero And Oris Aigbokhaevbolo Speak Out Against Amendments

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Filmmaker, scriptwriter and founder of PinPoint Media, Chris Ihidero in a chat with award winning journalist and film critic Oris Aigbokhaevbolo in an Instagram Live session on June 28, 2020, expressed his concerns about the recent 6th amendment to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code NBC and the possible impact on the media and broadcasting industry. 

Chris Ihidero and Oris

Chris has many years of experience in the Nigerian movie industry. He worked alongside the late filmmaker Amaka Igwe to create the very popular TV show, Fuji House of Commotion. In 2015, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo won the All Africa Music Award for Journalism. The two are stakeholders in the media and broadcasting industry in Nigeria. 

Read their interview below. 

Oris: The NBC recently revealed guidelines for content acquisition in Nigeria and you have been vocal about what you think.

Chris: The amendment being made to the Nigerian Broadcasting Code according to the NBC has three issues. One, the NBC wants to ban exclusivity on Nigerian TV, and if there are talks of exclusivity, nobody should collect any exclusive license on content in Nigeria and include Nigeria in it. 

Two, if you get the license, you must sublicense to others, which one assumes will include their child, NTA, because the NTA is NBC’s child.

Three, NBC then says should there be an argument about how much to pay for this licensing, the NBC would determine the price. Three issues. 

Let’s talk about exclusivity. Premium pay is attracted by something that is owed by only one person anywhere in the world. If many people owned it, it wouldn’t be premium anymore. Yes, I can choose to sublicense but at a price determined by the person that wants me to sublicense to them. It’s a willing buyer, willing seller scenario, unlike what NBC wants to do. Which is that even if there’s a willing buyer, a willing seller, and a determined price, NBC still determines what the final cost will be. 

Oris: Did you know when this was happening? Who did they (NBC) consult? Do you have any idea?

Chris: The Broadcast Code is updated periodically, every six years. That was going on, but I didn’t know about when this one was going. And they don’t necessarily have to consult me, there are a lot more capable people out there. They just need to consult widely and remember to consult people with skin in the game. While you may do what you want to do from the regulator’s point of view, you should also look from the people working in the industry’s point of view. And also have people who are neither regulators nor people working in the industry in the middle and have them help you understand the issues better. I’m not sure the NBC understands these issues as they should. I saw a clip on Channels TV the other day and it was members of the House of Representatives talking about how they need to force DSTV to do “Pay Per View.” I started laughing. Do they understand what Pay Per View means? Pay Per View means that if there is a major boxing event, you will have to pay to watch that event separately.  Pay Per view will be more than what you’ll pay for a whole month as a subscription to DSTV just to watch the event. 

Oris: I don’t think they understand. When they go to the US and they have those Pay Per View in their hotels, they think that’s how life is.

Man wearing a suit

Chris: It just shows you how knowledge at that level is lacking. So one, consult widely. Two, the NBC should be a regulator and a regulator alone. The NBC cannot be a participant. Stay on the sidelines, give us the guidelines, and let us all take a risk and let us win or lose as it is. That’s what we should do. The NBC should be a true regulator. And as the Yorubas say “Orisa gbemi, toba le gbemi fimile bo se ba mi.”

And the third thing is, it is possible for NBC to do nothing, and that will just be fine. The first rule is, do no “harm”. If you can’t help, then do no harm. If the NBC finds that it cannot help, then it should do no harm. And what the NBC is trying to do will harm the industry, it will harm my industry. Because if the Irokos, and the DSTVs and Netflix get hit, guess what’s going to happen, they will stop putting money into the industry because they will not be able to extract maximum value from the value chain of their spend in the industry, so they will pull out. And then what will happen? All of us are going to sit and hold hands with the people at NBC and NTA and sing Kumbaya. 

Let me be clear here, I do not think the Irokos and the DStvs and the Netflix are perfect, I think there are many ways you need to regulate them. I don’t think they are perfect entities, they are business entities, they will always look out for their own interests. The NBC’s job is to make sure their interests don’t clash with the interests of Nigerians, where the interests of Nigerians are not ludicrous. Nobody has any right to premium content anywhere in the world, you pay for it. I don’t think these entities are perfect entities, however, the way to correct your child is not to dash it to a lion to be devoured. And that’s what’s happening here. 

So those are my recommendations. Consult wider, be an arbitrator, if you find yourself unable to do any of those things, just stay on the sidelines and leave us alone. We are investing millions of naira. I have invested money in all kinds of things in the past one year, preparing myself and my organization for the content we want to make. What the NBC is doing right now is a “knee to my neck”, to speak in tandem with current happenings.

Ma standing beside a wall

Oris: They could argue that your business is not their direct focus right now. Is that an argument with some merit?

Chris: No, because I am a content producer who needs to sign licensing deals with the Irokos and the DStvs and the Netflix and everybody that is a content buyer. Remember the rule, once they take down the top guys, they’re going to come for you, and who says my content won’t be the major thing across board next? And if the rules are already on ground, affecting what’s on ground now, they’ll definitely come for me. It’s only natural. 

Oris: As it stands now, are NTA and NBC the only beneficiaries to this amendment? Who else could possibly be getting anything from this thing? 

Chris: People, individuals who will then go to the NTA and say “I want your airtime on Saturdays between noon and 7pm” when the likes of the Premiership will be on. So they buy the airtime on NTA and because there’s a sub licensing deal, they’ll go to Netflix and say “this your Money Heist that is everywhere, we want to show it in Nigeria because Nigerians have a right to see it.” So they’ll buy the airtime from NTA because they have a sublicensing deal. Netflix says “go and bring X amount for”, they’ll say we can’t afford it and go NBC to complain about the price. NBC then interferes and gives Netflix a condition that if they don’t reduce the price, they should leave Nigeria. 

Oris: Away from the NBC, what exactly are you working on? Can you tell us? 

Chris: Over the past year, I started a content fund for a million dollars. We’ve raised some money and we’ve started producing. We did the first season of our sitcom, and that’s ready now, 26 episodes of it. We’re pitching it to different platforms, we are getting good feedback and possibilities are opening up for us. Covid has thrown a spanner in the works over the past couple of months. But we’re sure we’ll get there. 

I’m excited about future possibilities because I have been blessed to have worked for everybody, DStv, MTV, independent producers, I have worked for everybody. And I thought it was time also to do my own thing. I do script consultation, story consultation, I teach, I do all of that, but I thought it was time to start producing my own content. So that’s what we started, I’m grateful to God for my team and for what we’re doing and the help I have had from friends, who are interested in my career.

Oris: You mentioned a sitcom, are there any other kinds of content you are planning on making?

Chris: Our content policy goes around grass, flowers and trees.The sitcom is our grass, we have got drama, we have all kinds of content. Just around the time Amaka Igwe passed on, we were about to start a TV channel, and we spent five years programming for that TV channel, but sadly, Nigerians would never be able to see that TV channel, because it passed on just as we were about to start it. I have that kind of experience with programming for channels. We’ve got programmes across board, reality, scripted and non scripted that we are producing. 

We are aware of market demands and all of that, but beyond programming we are also trying to do something that has not been done around here. Which is to create a production process that is built on templates. That we can become for Nigeria, and Africa, a one stop production place, from ideation to post production, we can create machinery. Around here we think of production in the creative sense only, elsewhere in the world, people think of production in the sense of machinery, so we’re trying to create all of that. 

Oris: According to modern business paradigms, there is this idea that a company like Amazon is a process company for e-commerce, figuring the best way to do that. Are you trying to make a process company for content in Nigeria? 

Chris: That’s what we’re doing. We have actually moved beyond trying to do it. We did it with two films last year and we did it with 26 episodes we shot. You begin that process with writing, number of scenes and pages, you do that with production. It’s an amazing thing. 

Oris: Going back to NBC, is it not possible to have a town hall meeting, where everybody can be convened and a solution can be sought.

Chris: I think it would be a good idea if it can be done. But I’m not sure that the problem is in doing a town hall, but that the NBC has the intention for the result that the town hall would bring. I hope that the NBC is open to ideas that can come from a town hall. If they can expand the people they’re consulting with and they include people with skin in the game, they will hear the truth. They will see the numbers, the numbers are available. If anybody owns the right to anything exclusively, it is just the beginning of the journey of what they need to do to make the thing successful. Just having the rights alone doesn’t mean much even if the rights are exclusive, it doesn’t mean you go and sit and do nothing. If that was all it means, HiTV will still be in business, because Hitv had the rights to the EPL, yet it failed as a business, why? 

Oris: Do you have the why for why it failed? 

Chris: Yes, I have the why, it was a poorly managed business from day one. I used Hitv as an example because everyone thinks that owning exclusive rights to something means immediate money is going to be printed for you. No, it doesn’t, It just means that you have an advantage. And if you work hard around certain things, you may be able to take that advantage. It is not success by itself. It is just success on it’s way. 

Look at what Jason and Mary have done with Irokotv in seven years. They have outspent, out influenced, out contributed to the industry than a behemoth like the NTA. Just a young couple. So to take advantage of that in the name of “you can’t have exclusive right to content..” And I don’t care for those making the argument that this is not right from what you create, but content that you take the right from somewhere else.  

The post NBC Code: Nollywood’s Chris Ihidero And Oris Aigbokhaevbolo Speak Out Against Amendments appeared first on Nigerian Entertainment Today.


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