…Also, grants 2-months licence fee waiver to broadcast stations as it promises holistic intervention
The Federal Government Wednesday, inaugurated an advisory committee of industry stakeholders to advise it on the best way to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed inaugurated the committee at a meeting with the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria, BON, in Abuja.
Mohammed said that the Federal Government realised the enotmous level of the damage inflicted on BON members, hence its decision to set up the committee to advise it on how best to cushion the effects of the devastating impact on the industry.
He explained that government decided to address the problems holistically instead of doing so peacemeal for more positive results.
His words, "I have listened to your presentation and I must say it is very comprehensive and well-articulated. I make bold to say that while BON members have been hit hard by the effects of the current pandemic, they are not alone.
"In fact, the entire Creative Industry, which also covers the broadcast industry, has been affected by the pandemic that has inflicted extensive damage on the economy of nations across the world.
‘‘We have therefore decided that instead of addressing these problems piecemeal, we should do so holistically for a more positive outcome.
"Let me stress here that the Creative Industry is a very critical sector of the nation's economy and a major plank of the economic diversification policy of this administration. It creates the highest number of jobs after Agriculture, especially for the youth.
‘‘There is no doubt that we need a collective and government -supported approach in dealing with the immediate, short and long term palliatives and initiatives for the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the sector.
‘‘The Government has therefore decided to set up a committee of industry stakeholders to look into and advise it on the best way to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the industry.’’
Members of the Committee include: Alli Baba - Comedy, Film and TV (Chairman); Bolanle Austen Peters – Film and Performing Arts; TerraKulture; Charles Novia – Television and Independent Producer, TeenTV; Segun Arinze- Actor and Producer; Ali Jita – Actor and Musician - Baba Agba – Film Director (BCI Studios.
They also include, Kene Okwuosa – Cinema and Distribution, Filmhouse; Efe Omoregbe – Record Label and Collective rights management, Hypertek/Now Muzik; Prince Daniel Aboki – Radio and Film, CoolFM / WaZoBia; Chioma Ude – Streaming, Envivo, and Olumade Adesemowo – Television and Platform, FreeTV.
Others also included: Dare Art Alade – Livespot Entertainment; Hajia Sa'a Ibrahim - BON; Anita Eboigbe - News Agency of Nigeria, NAN- Secretary as well as reprsentatives of the Fashion, Publishing, Photography and Hospitality and Travel sectors.
The committee which has four weeks from Wednesday to submit its report was mandated to assess the expected impact of the pandemic on the industry in general; advise the government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses as well as create succour for the industry and small businesses.
It would also suggest the type of taxation and financing that was best suited for the industry at this time to encourage growth by as well as advise the government on any other measure or measures that could be undertaken to support the industry.
In a related development, Mohammed has approved the request by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to grant a two-month licence fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations, in Nigeria in the interim, adding that the NBC had sent protective equipment to some Community Broadcast Stations across the country.
In his address, the Vice President of BON, Godfrey Ohuabunwa raised some concerns on behalf of their members.
In his letter titled: COVID-19 Pandemic and the challenges of the broadcasting industry: Appeal for Emergency Economic relief for the broadcast sector, Ohuabunwa said that the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant effects had adversely affected revenue generation and earnings of the broadcast outlets which if not properly managed would lead to the collapse of manty of these outlets with attendant lay offs and decline in the availability of information.
‘‘With an economy that is heavily dependent on one major product (oil), it is pertinent to look inwards and harness other avenue of revenue generation particularly now that there is a lull in the international oil market. This we join hands with FGN/CBN on its contingent plan on building a well-diversified and inclusive home grown economy.
‘‘It is instructive to note that the broadcast media as a creative industry contributes substantially to the nation’s GDP and the sector is a huge employer of labour, especially youths across genres of professions,’’ he added.