Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Piracy and censors board’s new distribution plan

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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Emeka Mba


Some 10 years ago, the National Films & Video Censors Board, under the leadership of Emeka Mba launched with fanfare, its New Distribution and Exhibitions Framework (NDEF).

Several members of the public bought the NDEF registration form and majority of those that bought the form paid in hundreds of thousands to NFVCB, the prescribed licensing fee as national and regional distributors.

If faithfully implemented as designed, the NDEF would have by now resolved most if not all the problems besetting the industry. Piracy that has rendered the industry prostrate would have been effectively curtailed. But now according to newspapers report, the Board rather than conclude the NDEF is set for a new distribution plan – how sad!

As a full-blooded Nigerian, a prominent stakeholder in the industry and the Technical Consultant to the NFVCB, who not only designed the NDEF and proposed it to the Board, but championed its implementation to the point where the present leadership developed its lethargic attitudes to its successful completion, I am naturally opposed to the NFVCB’s new plan because it is not only unnecessary but also will delay the urgently required solutions to immediately raise the industry from its present prostate position and reposition it for growth.

Already there are National and Regional Distributors licensed by the Board. And contrary to the provisions of the NDEF that States and LGAs be involved in the registration and licensing of community distributors, the Board has continue to register and license community distributors (Retailers) pocketing the total proceeds to the exclusion of the states and LGAs. Now rather than do the needful of actively involving the State governments to link the operations of the community’s retailers with those of the National and Regional Distributors, the board would rather a merry-go-round journey of a new distribution plan which perhaps will cost the country millions if not billions of Naira to implement and while the Board leadership take its time to “implement”, the industry remains in limbo, which won’t stop monthly emoluments at the Board now even allowed to start spending the fresh approved budget for the new policy. Piracy festers and stakeholders continue to battle their problems of survival, resorting to menial jobs to stay within bread line.

The NFVCB under Mba was working on a Federal government’s initiatives of SHARED RESPONSIBILITY under which the Board will partner with the State Governments for the use of their officials and resources to ensure full registration and subsequent licensing of retailers from all the nooks and crannies of their areas. This was for the emergence of accredited retailers in every community of the country who will become the official representatives of the copyright owners. They buy distribution rights of movies and music for their territories. And in the areas where the distribution rights are not bought, those movies or music are not to officially circulate therein. Should there be even a suspicion of such illegal circulation, the licensed retailers of the affected areas will all promptly be suspended from official line of distribution until the suspicion or actual infringement is resolved.

As incentive to ensure effective policing, the States and their LGAs will be paid on the proceeds of all movies and music distributed in their territories. In this period of recession, that would be a strong source of IGR for the states and their LGAs to make them jealously protect and prevent piracy in their domains. Other advantages to the States are employment generations through the licenced retailers to reduce poverty of their people and accelerated rural areas development because the places of such licensed retailers will in time evolve to become social/economic convergence points of their communities. Such accredited retailers also help the Federal/States to disseminate information to their communities, attracting other businesses to their areas.

The much-needed structure for the industry will emerge to align local distribution of entertainment products with the global best practices. The industry would achieve a regular injection of capital to the industry, as producers would be able to easily access loans or arrange packaged investments for their productions. Such loans or investments will be repaid by Producers’ own authorised distributors through instalmental payments of the accredited community retailers distributing the music or movie in their communities.

Now the public, especially the entertainment industry’s stakeholders and the State governments need to question the wisdom of the NFVCB to embark on a new distribution plan when all that is required is a work of about three months for the Board to conclude NDEF with a partnership with the State governments to register and license community retailers nationwide; carve out the retailers’ territories and encode both the territories and the Community Retailers for systemic operations and policing.

I write as a concerned industry’s veteran and stakeholders and in the interests of State governments who now starved of funds should welcome new sources of strong and sustainable sources of IGR from the sales and distribution of entertainment products in their domains.

Happily, our extant constitution recognise our plurality and therefore put movie and music censorship on the concurrent list. This allows State governments desirous of immediately taking constitutional advantage to boost their IGR not to wait further for the NFVCB for a new needless experimentation! States can immediately launch their own initiative not only to start making huge income from the productions and distributions of movies and music in their domains but to also help the entertainment industry contain the raging epidemic of piracy through administrative regulations that could within 90 days be made operative in their areas. Happier news is that the project will start income generations within a week of its launch, therefore implementation’s budget need not be an issue.

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