Nigeria: We Can't Ban Big Brother 3 because it’s on the Internet, says National Broadcasting Commission DG

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Nigerian policy-makers have got themselves in something of a dilemma over Big Brother Africa. A Parliamentary Committee Chair is huffing and puffing that the programme should be banned whilst the content regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission admits it can do little or nothing as the programme is available over the Internet.

The Director General (DG) of the Commission Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa told newsmen in Abuja that rather than ban the broadcast of the programme in Nigeria, the NBC was seeking to get DStv Multichoice who owns the bouquet rights in Nigeria and MNET who are the content providers to comply with the provisions of the NBC codes.

"We can't say no to Big Brother. It is also shown on the Internet. Unless at a national level we decide to black it out, you cannot regulate the content of the Internet. If they show it in other countries and show it on the Internet, it is not to our advantage. We believe it is better to correct it if is shown at all" he declared.

The chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information and National Orientation, Rep. Dino Melaye had threatened to ban the broadcast of the programme by DSTV Multichoice on the grounds that it abused the sensibilities of Nigerians.

According to him, "the negative consequences of BBA cannot be over emphasised as we are aware of the moral decadence and debasement of our cherished cultural heritage occasioned by it. As members of this noble committee, we have a call to duty in our hands. We shall therefore not fold our hands and watch our society degenerate but act decisively. "

However, the NBC now says that the ban would be ineffective as the same materials would still be available to Nigerians and the rest of the world on television stations in other parts of Africa and on the Internet in Nigeria. Engr. Bolarinwa observed that there was no way to stop Nigeria children who visited the internet from watching the programme saying therefore that it was necessary to ensure that nothing that violates the NBC codes was allowed to find its way into the programme in any way.

He said even though there has been no direct complaints from the public, the NBC had conducted its own research as empowered by law and found out that all that viewers required DSTV Multichoice to do was to eliminate the "shower hour" and make sure that all obscenities and other misconduct in the African sense by inmates such as vulgar expressions, pornography, drunkenness and drug addiction were punished in the programme.

Recalling the Big Brother 1, Engr. Bolarinwa remarked that an omnipresent "Big Brother" punished all such misconduct and it was therefore hard to find inmates engaging in actions that were considered offensive in the later edition. "We want them to reintroduce the big brother to punish all such misconducts," the NBC DG stated.

On the effort to meet up with the cut over from analogue to digital broadcast in the country, the NBC DG was confident that the country would meet the 2015 international deadline saying that Nigeria was working to achieve the change over by 2012 thereby gaining an elbow room of three years. He stressed the importance of providing viewers with digital set boxes to receive digital signals in the country noting that the Federal Government has set up a task force to facilitate the change-over.

Vanguard (Lagos) 28 July 2008