Nigerian government moves to block Internet streaming

Minister of Information, Labaran Maku

The federal government may be angling to tighten its media policy through a new guideline that may see greater scrutiny of web news publishing which has proliferated throughout the country.

Worst hit might be the streaming of news visuals on the web, which government regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission(NBC), warns its approval must first be obtained for.

Already, the commission has denounced an operator’s “unilateral” streaming of such signals on the internet, the second time in two months it will issue a major rebuke of live coverage and reportage of events on the television or internet.

In a recent letter that offers an insight into what may after all become the government’s new position, the commission ordered the Ogun State Television to suspend its airing of visual news contents on the internet until same was approved by the commission.

“I am directed to convey the commission’s disapproval of the unilateral commencement of the streaming of OGTV’s signal on the web without the approval of the commission.”

“You are directed to immediately cease the streaming on the web and apply to the commission for the required approval,” the NBC said in the February 21, 2012 letter exclusively obtained by this website.

Officials of the commission refused to categorically confirm to Premium Times if the move represented a government policy or how the NBC planned to enforce that on the thousands of news sites in the country should it be.

The spokesperson for the commission, Maimuna Jimada, did not respond to several calls, but another staff in the public affairs unit who refused to be named said getting an approval was only a basic requirement of doing “any business.”

“Before you do any business with anybody, you have to have an approval,” she said.

Thousands of privately owned and state-owned publications have sprung up on the internet in the country in the past one year. It is not clear which amongst could be the targets of the new directive.

Lately, the NBC has sought to up its control of the media industry  that has gained traction with the widening use of the internet and blogs.

A major test for the authorities’ tolerance for the press was during the crippling January fuel demonstrations across the country in which the NBC threatened to sanction stations beaming the protests live. The warning was disregarded by a few organizations.


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