Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday, described the review of broadcast regulation code by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as a tactical declaration of war against the arts and its producers.
In a statement, Soyinka said: “I think it is about time the government come out openly to 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 and Development 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. Let me quickly utilise the opening of this new flank to commend the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for his prompt attention to the complaint by Nigerian authors.”
The literary icon added: “Now, it is the turn of a sister industry to be placed under siege! I have just read excerpts of the newly proposed NBC code and become aware of some potentially dangerous aspects of the code.”
Although Soyinka conceded that some of the regulations were well-intentioned, he shuddered 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 strangulation in effect!”
He noted that several practitioners’ voices have been raised in protest. “For one such insider’s detailed and passionate exposition on the deleterious provisions of this code, I shall draw particular attention of policymakers 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 government kindly take its knee off the neck of this industry. Please – let it breathe!” Soyinka stated.