By John Egbokhan
Nigerians have urged the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to stay focused as he champions the move to bring to a stop the exclusive rights in sports broadcasting in the country.
This follows a directive by the Federal Government to the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to implement measures, geared towards re-positioning the nation’s audio-visual landscape.
The ministry, through the NBC, was in the process of amending the relevant laws that will make it compulsory for broadcasters and exclusive licensees to share such exclusive rights with other broadcasters.
The move by the Nigerian government is in sync with global practices in countries like United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France, where no single broadcaster or licensee has exclusive rights to live football broadcast and contents like the English Premier League, La Liga, Champions League, French Ligue 1 and Bundesliga.
In the UK, Sky Sports, BT Sports and Amazon are the three pay television stations showing the EPL while in Spain, Movistar Plus, Orange and MiTele Plus aired last season’s La Liga campaign.
And the 2020-2021 La Liga season, kicking off in September, will see Movistar Plus and Orange broadcast the matches.
Seemingly aligning with what obtains in countries where the rights are secured from, the minister recently told the House of Representatives committee that “these amendments are, for once, giving back to Nigerians their own industry.”
And these initiatives have gone down well with a majority of Nigerians, who said the stoppage of exclusive rights will make the pay TV sector competitive, attractive and pocket-friendly.
Speaking to Sports Vanguard, Kamoru Dada, who runs a viewing centre in Jibowu, said: “This is one plan that will help all of us making a living from running a viewing Centre.
“I say this because prices will certainly come down as the broadcasters would lower their prices in order to attract more viewers and subscribers and not lose them to the others.”
Reacting to the plans, an operator of a viewing centre in Ikorodu, Tunde Daramola, said: “I read of what the ministry is trying to do in the pay TV industry.
“I am in support of it as it will give viewers and customers the opportunity to have different options.”
Also speaking, Kazeem Eniola, who manages a sports bar in Ketu, said: “This regulation is going to stop the misuse of monopoly or market power or anti-competitive and unfair practices by broadcasters to limit or stop others in the audio-visual market.”