With four days to the kick-off of the Africa Cup of Nations, confusion reigns as how Nigerian fans will watch the football fiesta as the broadcasting regulators in the the country has queried an alleged broadcasting code in the country by Startimes.
The NBC, established in 1992 under the National Broadcasting Commission Act 1992, is tasked with regulating and controlling the broadcast industry in Nigeria.
Its Director-General, Charles Ebuebu has written to regional rights holders, New World Televisions S.A (NWTV) and CAF pointing out critical concerns regarding potential violations of the NBC Code in relation to the broadcast rights for the AFCON 2023.
The commission is concerned that there are breaches of the NBC Broadcast Code, designed to safeguard the interests of the Nigerian TV industry and viewers.
According to the memo sent, the code prohibits the practice of international rights being “bundled” in a way that negatively impacts the transmission and availability of rights in Nigeria.
Bundling refers to the practice of rights being sold on a multi-territory or continental basis instead of a national one, where multinational interests are allowed to take precedence over national ones.
The Pan-African pay TV broadcasters Startimes have insisted to NWTV and CAF that they must have Pan-African rights in order to serve their markets outside of Nigeria.
The decision to award rights to them has delayed the finalisation of NWTV/CAF’s exclusive award of rights on Free-To-Air (FTA) after a completed bidding process won by a local Sports Broadcasters.
FTA is where every fan can access the games for free. With just four days remaining to the start of the competition, the delay hampers the efforts of any Free-To-Air broadcaster to secure the requisite broadcast sponsorship to cover the cost of the rights to the event.
The NBC has written to express its displeasure as well as raise concerns around the potential violations of the broadcast code, stating that unless the issues they have raised are given expedited considerations, there is an imminent possibility of a blackout in Nigeria.
A spokesperson for NBC said, “We are troubled that with four days until what we expect is one of the most eagerly awaited TV events of 2024, there is the possibility of no coverage for millions of football fans of the Super Eagles. There has been little coverage so far of build-up programming. To know that this may be as result of interests that ride rough shod over the interests of Nigerian broadcasters and fans is not something that the NBC is prepared to sit-back on”.
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