Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has lent his voice to the criticism of the 6th National Broadcast Code recently released by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The celebrated playwright made his position known in a statement issued on Tuesday. Soyinka, in the statement titled “That NBC Regulatory Code!”, accused the Federal Government of declaring war against the Arts and producers of art works.
“I think it is about time the government comes out openly and admit that it has declared war against the Arts and its producers, instead of its present tactics of piecemeal attrition.
“Just when we were reeling from the action of the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports in joining hands with book pirates by providing a free-loading portal for the works of Nigerian authors, among others, along comes a new regulatory hit against the cinema and video enterprise, and its operators,” he said.
He commended the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for promptly responding to complaints by Nigerian authors on the threat to their copyright.
While noting that some of the amendments are well intentioned, Soyinka stated the code is the equivalent of a knee to the neck of the creative industry and carries the potential of economic sabotage.
“And now it is the turn of a sister industry to be placed under siege! I have just read excerpts of the newly proposed NBC broadcasting code and become aware of some potentially dangerous aspects of the code.
“Whilst one concedes that, I shudder to imagine unintended consequences such as backhanded censorship in the age of digital media. These restrict intellectual property rights and their scope of exploitation with whomsoever one chooses to collaborate.
“It is economic sabotage writ large, directed against thousands of practitioners. Regulatory? This is strangulatory in effect!,” said Soyinka.
He noted that many players in the creative sector have voiced their concerns over the amendments. “For one such insider’s detailed and passionate exposition on the deleterious provisions of this Code, I shall draw particular attention of policy makers to Chris Ihidero’s Why Does the NBC Want to Kill Local Content in Nigeria? If I may invoke a contemporary tragic image to render graphically what Ihidero and others have pleaded on behalf of both creators and consumers of this artistic productivity: Let the government kindly take its knee off the neck of this industry. Please – let it breathe,” he concluded.