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Why some of Lai Mohammed’s announced regulations have attracted industry criticisms

There is underlying factor about administration. It requires stakeholders’ engagement in order for any administration to come up with acceptable and practicable regulations fit for the industry. This is expected to make necessary impact for economic development. But recent policy pronouncements by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed have attracted wide spread industry criticism, suggesting lack of appropriate engagement.

The criticism trailing the recent moves by the Federal Government as pronounced by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed to put penalty of fine on advertisements placed on foreign owned media Channels is not the first of such announcement by the minister to be kicked by industry players.

The minister had during NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme recently said that Nigerian brands placing their advertisements on foreign owned media Channels during foreign matches must compulsorily advertise during Nigerian Premier Football League games.

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The minister further stated that brands that create their adverts abroad but broadcast them on CNN and other international stations with reach in Nigeria will pay a fine of N100,000 each time such adverts are run.

Consequently, the joint body of professionals across advertising industry has kicked against such move. The bodies are Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN), Media Independent Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) and the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN)

In a statement jointly signed by the groups, they agreed that there were merits in the bid to encourage local production of contents in a bid to support the local industries, but this has to be allowed to develop organically. They explained that advertisers put their advertising investment where the eyeballs are.

The advertisers explained that Nigeria based news channels and contents developed locally are also consumed across many countries beyond our borders, with no special fines and levies imposed on companies who place adverts within them.

The groups particularly urged the minister to engage the industry players and practitioners more and explore collaboration on issues like this before making these pronouncements that can significantly impact the industry.

The groups told the minister that both the ministry and the communication industry in Nigerian can benefit more from working together and in addressing key issues.

The minister had in August, 2020 faced similar criticism over controversial National Broadcasting Commission, NBC Code which raised contentious issues. Among them were non-exclusive right for broadcasting content, advertising issues and the N5m fine for hate speech offence.

After unveiling the Code on August 4, 2020 in Lagos, the Minister came under attacks as Nigerians alleged that he was riding on the back of National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to silence critics, a plan government couldn’t achieve through other means such as bill by National Assembly against hate speech.

Various bodies including Nigeria Union of Journalists condemned the Code, describing some of the provisions as being at variance with tenets of democracy.

Many stakeholders have believed that proper engagement with practitioners in the formulation and subsequent release of policies and regulations would not only ensure acceptability of the rules but their proper implementation for the healthiness of the society.

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