BY ESE DIBEBI
In what is nailed-on to be music to the ears of many-a Nigerian, the country’s House of Representatives has passed, through a second reading, a bill designed to increase competition in the broadcasting sector, The Scoop reports.
Sponsored by chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnena Elendu-Ukeje, the bill is titled “A bill for an Act to amend the National Broadcast Commission Act cap N11, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2014, to provide for competition in Nigeria, promote efficiency and Expand opportunities for Nigerians’ participation in world markets while at the same time recognize the role of foreign competition in Nigeria, and for other matters related thereto.”
About the bill, Elendu-Ukeje said, “This is one sector that does not suffer from customer ignorance as this sector has been subject to motions/ petitions on the floor of parliament and litigations in the court of law. Justice Chukwujeku Aneke of the a federal High Court had on May 28th 2015 dismissed a suit against DSTV over increase in subscription fees as Nigeria is yet to have a codified set of rules promoting competition in that market. Competition laws exist under different names in different climes. From antitrust law in the US to anti monopoly laws in China and Russia, and Trade law in the UK and Australia, the underlying factor for these laws is consumer protection.“
She hopes that the bill will help in giving the National Broadcasting Commission more regulatory independence as well as enabling a free market system which would break existing monopoly in the broadcast sector.
“The intendment of these two provisions is that by liberalizing communication and media, that the sector be competitive in line with our economic policies,” the lawmaker added.
It is believed that, if passed into law, it will also kick out price or rate fixing, price discrimination, restrictive exclusive content, abuse of dominant market position, and unconstitutional boycotting.
South African company, DStv, currently enjoys near-absolute monopoly in the Nigerian digital broadcasting space.