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Hope Comes for Domestic Sports Content through 6th NBC Code

first_imgShehu Dikko…new deal for domestic league Duro Ikhazuagbe“Advertisement of products and services during prime foreign sports contents shall not be broadcast unless the advertiser equally sponsors, and or advertises such products and services in the broadcast of prime local sports content in the same category, where such local contents produced in Nigeria are available.”- Section 6.2.12 of the 6th National Broadcast CodeThe above is an excerpt from Nigeria’s 6th National Broadcast Codes released on July 4, 2019 which presents an interesting outlook for ownership of international sports broadcast rights and domestic sports content in Nigeria in the seasons ahead. In what can be considered a radical move to protect domestic sports and promote patronage for domestic sports content, the Nigeria Broadcast Commission (NBC) encoded provisions that compels corporations commissioning advertisements in or outright broadcast sponsorship of foreign sports contents on local television and radio as well as broadcast organisations acquiring broadcast rights to also acquire rights to the broadcast of premium domestic sports.Obviously, free market advocates would be up in arms to contest the seeming imposition of business decisions on broadcast organisations and their corporate partners. Then, protectionism in business have never received more fillip than we are currently experiencing in America where President Donald Trump is unabashedly pushing the international markets for patronage of American products and services. If the world capital of capitalism and free market can insist on deals to promote trade in favour of America, who are we here to shout?It’s worth repeating here that deploying resources made from domestic consumption for funding of foreign broadcast contents is not only inimical to the economy which suffers from capital flight, but is killing the domestic sports industry, piling up unemployment and creating social distress as youths who otherwise would have been gainfully engaged in sports are left to wallow in social vices. Such spends on international sports contents creates jobs in the countries where the rights are bought from and provides much needed revenue for the industry in those countries to lure the best talents from all corners of the globe, making their industry a more elegant and attractive proposition.There has been the counter argument that our sports have not developed into the quality of product that can compete with its international counterparts, hence the preference by rights consumers to patronise the more attractive foreign content. This is a clever by half proposition and it negates the realities of the third world and the advanced western economies.Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Is’haq Modibbo Kawu was unknowingly responding to this when he noted in his forward on the Codes that “a final point of interest is the manner the 6th edition of the National Broadcasting Code has also reflected the conviction that our sports in general ought to get advertising funding support that matches a reasonable percentage of the huge amount of advertising spend that supports foreign sporting activities”.There are obvious initial challenges that the policy will throw up such as the difficulty Advertisers, Company Marketing Executives and Media Buyers will face in making business decisions on allocating hitherto unbudgeted funds for investment in domestic sports either through sponsorship or purchase of broadcast rights to domestic sports content. This is natural at the outset of every new policy but the long term gains outweigh the short term rough edges.The Government may also encourage a buy-in for corporate investment by offering sweeteners by way of incentives that may include some form tax exemption or holiday for organisations that comply with the code. There may be other waivers that could be offered such as duty waivers for import of equipment associated with broadcast. Significantly, the recent Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Bill passed by the 8th National Assembly made specific provisions providing for tax exemption and other concessions to companies sponsoring football and this can be extended across all sports.It is patently devious to mop up cash from domestic consumption and use same to create unemployment here and enrich economies of other nations. A thriving domestic sports industry will in the long run create jobs and expertise in allied industries such as media, legal, merchandising, technology, infrastructure, Finance, Insurance and the health sector to list just a few.There can be no future for the domestic sports industry if we keep blind eyes and sealed lips to the shameless dumping of international sports content on our media space while blacking out the domestic activities. Broadcast right remains the premium revenue source for sports funding and the NBC Code is on point in seeking to compel even if trickles to the sector. We may need to get familiar with practices in some European countries such as Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain where different forms of regulations are embedded in their broadcast codes and with additional laws in place to protect and support their domestic sports competitions.Actor and movie producer, Desmond Elliot recently called for outright ban of foreign contents in movies aired in the country and while he has been met with stringent criticisms by persons that readily compare domestic movies with the more established Hollywood, the germane point in his call is that Nollywood cannot compete with Hollywood. The American movie industry is supported by advanced infrastructure, technology and big finance that is already available in the country unlike Nigeria that is far behind in all indices. Same applies to our sports industry that also lacks the infrastructure, technology, finance and history behind European sports.The rules have now been laid down for existing and interested broadcast organisations on acquisition of international sports content rights and no organisation can subvert such a binding regulation. Section 5.2.11 was very clear on this and states that “foreign sports content can no longer be transmitted in the Nigerian territory except the owner of such content has acquired a Prime Local Sports Content of the same category with at least 30 percent of the cost of acquiring the foreign sports content”.An obvious challenge to the domestic sports industry is that those at the helm must initiate steps to float broadcast production companies either wholly owned or in partnership with companies with relevance competence and business capacity to produce events that can compete with established foreign contents. Over the years, there has been a sloppy relationship that sees television and radio outlets produce events and own the contents. Some of the negative effects of such partnership has been the warehousing of the content, inability to extract maximum rights fee and also loss of revenue from international sales of the contents to interested broadcast channels in other continents. Obviously, the production costs also affect the bottom line of the broadcast rights buyer given the huge cost in equipment and logistics.This has been the difference between Sports Content rights owners in places such as the United States of America, Europe, South America, Asia and nearer home, South Africa. Independent production of sports events will ensure national exposure as rights would be sold across terrestrial and direct to Home Services as well as to live streaming and mobile platforms.As noted by a former Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Fred Edoreh, this is a move to arrest the closing down of domestic sports. “The codes couldn’t have come at a better time than now when we have been subjected to unabashed promotion of foreign sports content, especially football by broadcast organisations and their corporate partners that exploit the economy, make huge kill in selling to domestic consumers but shift the profits to promote foreign football and create jobs in those countries”.In closing this piece, it is worth mentioning that credit must be ascribed to the Federal Government for getting this code approved as it has real potentials to elevate domestic sports to the next level and former Minister for Information and Communication, Alhaji Lai Mohammed also deserves applause for driving the process with the support of Alhaji Kawu, the NCC Director General. It is hoped that government will put measures in place to ensure the enforcement of the regulations.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

President Weah, Please Answer Phebe Hospital’s SOS Call and Save Our Rural People

first_imgWe consider this Editorial a very serious one, because it is intended to make a direct and urgent appeal to President George Weah to come to Phebe Hospital’s rescue, in the same way President William R. Tolbert saved this hospital in 1973.What is at stake is yet another very serious crisis at one of the nation’s leading medical and health institutions—Phebe Hospital in Suacoco, Bong County.  Why is Phebe so  critical?  Because it serves millions of rural Liberians; and also travelers through Liberia’s vast interior that may fall sick en route or become victims of terrible accidents along the highways leading through Bong County, on to Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and beyond.Why do we say that history is about to repeat itself?  Because the crisis at Phebe today is identical to that which befell Phebe in 1973, just after Dr. Walter Gwenigale returned home from his highly successful medical studies in Puerto Rico and Los Angeles, California, United States of America.The alarming story from our Bong County Correspondent Marcus Malayea, published on the back page of yesterday’s Daily Observer, told us that Phebe is probably the nation’s oldest hospital—97 years.  It was started by American Lutherans in Harrisburg, Montserrado County around 1921 when they opened their first Liberian mission in this part of Montserrado County, on the Right Bank of the St. Paul River.  Attached to the hospital was a School of Nursing.  There in Harrisburg the Lutherans also planted the E.V. Day Girls School.  The Lutherans put their male students school across the river in Millsburg, and called it the Muelenberg Boys School.Nearly a half century later the Lutherans, in collaboration with the Episcopal and Methodist Churches, relocated Phebe to Suacoco, in the then Central Province which in 1964 became Bong County.  It was an ultra-modern medical facility in the heart of rural Liberia, equipped with a modern operating room and X-ray department, electricity and running water.  A little later, Phebe joined with Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University) to open the nation’s first degree-granting School of Nursing.But immediately upon Dr. Gwenigale’s return from his medical studies, the Lutheran missionaries at Phebe told him they were closing Phebe and turning it into a health center.  They said there was no money to continue running the hospital, because American Lutherans were now focusing on saving “the heathen at home, rather than the heathen abroad.”Dr. Gwenigale, who had returned with his Puerto Rican wife Carmen, a well-trained radiologist and their year-old  first son, Walter, Jr., did not panic at this alarming revelation.  The doctor, also a surgeon, made a fast move.  He drove to Monrovia one morning and found his Cuttington classmate, now a journalist, at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and told him the terrible news about Phebe.  Walter Gwenigale, along with his Lutheran Training Institute classmate Wilton Sankawulo, had graduated in 1959, just as Kenneth Y. Best had graduated from the Booker Washington Institute that same year and the three of them, among many others from all over Liberia, met at Cuttington as freshmen in February 1960.  In mid-1961 the Lutherans sent Walter to Puerto Rico for medical studies.  He presented to his classmate the crisis he faced immediately on his return—Phebe, the hospital he had returned home well prepared to serve, was closing down.“So what do you want me to do?” asked  KYB.“I want you to write about it to see if we can stop Phebe from closing.”That same weekend Mr. Best traveled to Phebe in Suacoco, interviewed the Lutherans in charge of Phebe, who confirmed the imminent closure, met the Hospital Board that was meeting that Saturday morning, then toured the entire facility, including all the infrastructure. The result was two major stories the following week—on Tuesday and Thursday, published in the Liberian Star, a daily, and the bi-weekly Liberian Age. On seeing the stories, President William R. Tolbert summoned his Health Minister, Counselor Oliver Bright, who confirmed to him Phebe’s imminent closure, because the Lutherans said they had no more money to keep the hospital open. “How much does it cost to run Phebe annually,” President Tolbert enquired.“US$400,000, Mr. President, according to Mr. Best,” Minister Bright replied.President Tolbert immediately dictated a letter to his younger brother, Finance Minister Steve Tolbert, directing him to provide US$400,000 annually to keep Phebe Hospital open.Dr. Gwenigale took over Phebe immediately and ran it successfully for over 30 years, even through the war years.  It was this enviable legacy that led President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to appoint him her Health Minister for most of her tenure.We appeal to President George Weah to repeat history by doing for Phebe what President Tolbert did for this critical medical institution on which millions of our rural people as well as travelers up country depend for their health, medical and even emergency needs.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more