GSM Operators Face Regulatory Crackdown On Advertising in Nigeria

Telecoms

The Nigerian regulator NCC has told mobile operators to stop advertising new promotions while they sort out quality of service issues on the network. As the sector comes to grip with this new regulatory crackdown, senior industry sources confirmed receiving fresh NCC directive stopping not just product advertisements but all forms of campaigns that may "project" the activities of players in the GSM sector.

Media planners say it is also a development that may further deal a huge blow on the Nigerian media industry that earns a huge chunk of revenue from the mobile telephony sector. As elsewhere in Africa, the mobile companies are the single biggest group of advertising spenders.

According to the NCC directive, GSM operators have been told to cut advertising, particularly promotions offering additional minutes to their subscribers on their networks.

Hitherto, only two players, MTN and Celtel Nigeria were restricted from placing advertisements that may add more subscribers or result in additional airtime usage on their networks. But no ban was issued on campaigns that may "project their activities in the public eye", a source told Leadership last week

Glo mobile, the mobile business of second national operator (SNO), may have to suspend an ongoing promotion kicked off in the last quarter of 2007 under which it plans to give away 500 cars in a periodic raffle draws for airtime purchases by its subscribers. A company source said last week that the legal department of the business is studying the NCC directive and will respond appropriately, "As we obtained their clearance before embarking on the promotions."

Leadership