The Nigerian government through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Thursday issued a fresh notice to all social media platforms and online broadcasting service providers in Nigeria to apply for its broadcast licence.
This new directive affects Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok and others.
NBC Director-General, Armstrong Idachaba, issued the notification in newspaper advertisement on Thursday.
NBC warned that any online broadcast service provider that fails to obtain a licence will be considered an illegal entity and would be outlawed.
Idachaba said the application is in line with the provision of the National Broadcasting Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation 2004, Section 2(1)(b)).
“The commission shall have responsibility of receiving, processing, and considering applications for the establishment, ownership or operation of radio and television stations including cable television services, Direct Satellite Broadcast (DSB), and any medium of broadcasting.
“The National Broadcasting Commission hereby directs every Online Broadcast Service provider and social media platforms operating within the Nigerian state to apply and obtain a broadcast license for their service(s),” he said.
Professor Idachaba said the application should be sent to his Abuja office.
This directive is coming after the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) ordered all telecoms to block Nigerians from accessing Twitter.
It is not immediately clear whether the directive applies strictly to only broadcast organisations or not.
Although no direction has been drawn, the government moved to license social media companies after Twitter took down a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, after stating that the message violates its policy.
In the tweet, the president had threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving” in “the language they understand”.
Two days after the incident, the federal government suspended Twitter in Nigeria and directed NBC to “immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria”.
NBC also directed-broadcast stations to stop using Twitter, saying it “will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise” the microblogging site.
The action heightens concerns about press freedom which were raised after the commission reviewed its code to, among other things, increase the fine for “hate speech” from N500,000 to N5 million.
A number of media houses have been sanctioned in line with the code which many Nigerians and groups said targets press freedom and critics of the Buhari administration
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