The Nigerian government has announced plans to regulate content on video streaming platforms signaling moves to consolidate on regulating social media and over-the-top (OTT) media. Regulation will require global streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to apply for approval of the content they wish to stream.
Nigeria may be moving the way of India and Turkey. In India, digital news, audio, and visual content platforms are regulated by the Ministry Information & Broadcasting (I&B) which has power to censor content deemed unacceptable.
Abuja banned Twitter about three months ago after it accused the social media platform of orchestrating tweets undermining national security.
“Streaming services could be used as a medium to cause chaos and undermine the country’s democratic processes hence the need for regulation,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, as saying in a two-day conference organized by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) in Lagos.
“The goal of regulation is not to stifle creativity but to create sanity and encourage healthy competition for socio-economic gains,” the minister said. He was represented by Director, Information and Technology in the ministry, Comfort Ajiboye.
OTT are audio and video hosting and streaming services. They include content hosting platforms offering production and release of short movies, feature films, documentaries and web-series all of which have become extremely popular worldwide. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video lead this market.
Netflix currently rules the subscription video on demand (SVOD) market in sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria and South Africa accounting for its largest chunks of the market. Digital TV Research forecast that subscription video-on-demand users in Africa would, by 2026, number 15.06 million, triple the 5.11 million expected at the end of 2021.
Critics have accused government of planning to censor free expression and enterprise.
Whether in India, Turkey or even Australia, there is growing clamour to regulate content on streaming platforms following concerns around political and moral issues.