The National House of Representatives have passed a bill set to break the exclusive monopoly of DSTV in the country. This bill which is aimed at strengthening the National Broadcast Commission as an independent regulator and making broadcast more competitive in the country has been passed through the second reading in the House of Representatives on Thursday.
The bill sponsored by Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnena Elendu-Ukeje 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 completion in Nigeria, and for other matters related thereto.” reports the Nation.
According to Ukeje, the bill will also create room for competition through deregulation, liberalization, privatization, ensuring free market operations and also enforcing penalty(s) to parties that go against the provisions of the law.
The piece of legislation, she said, will prevent price or rate fixing, price discrimination, restrict exclusive content, abuse of dominant market position, and unconstitutional boycotting. This proposed law is a remedy to the obvious lacuna in the NBC Act and it will strengthen the NBC as Nigeria has no set of codified laws that speaks to the subject matter.
“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,” Ukeje reiterated.
She stressed that the Fourth Schedule, Section 39(1) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, states expressly that every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information.
Section 16(2c) of the constitution further states that “the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or groups”.
She finished by saying “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 bill passed through second reading without debate when the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara called for a voice vote.