Nigeria: HITV Commends NCC On Piracy War

Regulation & Policy

As the Nigeria Copyrights Commission (NCC) opens a new front in the war against piracy with the recent raiding of Metro-Digital Cable Television, leading Nigerian pay-television platform, HITV, has urged the industry regulator to intensify its drive to eliminate the menace completely. Nigeria has one of the highest piracy rates in the world, and it is estimated that the country loses billions of dollars to unauthorised manufacture and sale of patented works.

Citing its mandate to implement the Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP), NCC said in a statement signed by Jolayemi Abayomi Simeon, for the director general, that it carried out a raid of the satellite television cable network in Onitsha and Port Harcourt, and seized equipment such as decoders, smart cards of other service providers, and arrested nine employees of the company.

NCC said Metro-Digital Cable Television was suspected of involvement in broadcast piracy, which was a violation of the copyright laws of Nigeria, adding that the commission is poised to reduce the incidence of piracy to zero level for both local and international works.Speaking in Lagos recently, managing director and chief executive officer of HiTV, Mr Toyin Subair said the prevalence of piracy has become frightening as the scourge has crept from music and videos to virtually all sectors of the economy, including the Internet, technology, manufacturing, media and films, pharmacy, medicine, fashion, arts and publishing. Subair urged the Commission not to relent in the anti-piracy war, as protection of intellectual property is central to any creative endeavour, without which substantial amounts of money are lost, besides the fact that investment and research are adversely affected.

Last year, HITV publicly joined the anti piracy war with the donation of a bus to the regulatory agency (NCC). Benjamin Zida, HiTV's head of operations said at the occasion that the company recognised "the fact that NCC is incapacitated in its activities and we know that one of such incapacities is the ability to move from one point to another", adding that "it's just something to make sure that the job they are doing moves on as fast as possible and also to ensure that at least the responses to complaints are immediately dealt with.

"Receiving the Toyota hiace bus, Chris Nkwocha, manager of the Owerri Zonal office who represented the director general admonished other stakeholders to join the quest for copyright protection. Said he: "we expect more from other corporate bodies. If we must fight these pirates to a standstill we need cooperative and collaborative effort from establishments. So we expect them to borrow a leaf from what you (HiTV) have just done."STRAP was designed to strengthen copyright protections through more strategic and focused enlightenment, enforcement and enablement programmes of action that are tailored to the needs of specific industries and it is with this, the NCC combats all forms of piracy and copyright abuses and also ensure that measures to protect copyright do not become a barrier in the industry.

Leadership (Abuja) 28 May 2008