Court Rules That NBC Can’t Regulate Advertising In Nigeria

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has held that the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) acted beyond its powers in seeking to regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria contrary to the provisions of the extant Advertising Practitioners (Regulation) Act of 2004.

The court also declared that the NBC lacks the power to prohibit exclusivity on privately acquired intellectual property right in programme contents of a right holder viz a viz the salient provisions of the constitution and the copyright act.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa also set aside the proposed amendment to the 6th Edition of the NBC Code for being ultra vires, incompetent null and void, and perpetually restrained the Commission from implementing it.

The court delivered the judgment, in a suit filed by a Lagos based journalist, Mr Femi Davies.

READ ALSO: Buhari Approves Reconstitution Of NBC Board

Mr Davies had approached the court contending among other things that the amendment sought by the defendant to the 6th edition of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code is in violation of his rights to own intellectual property in Nigeria over which he can exercise exclusive rights.

He had also argued that the amendment if allowed will greatly affect business and the development of the country as a whole as it will frustrate tonnes of investment and hard work of many years.

The NBC on its part had submitted that the amendment to the 6th broadcasting code was done to protect local operators, promote creativity and maximize local contents due to the anti trust provisions contained in the amendment.

It also claimed that the amendment was intended to among other things stimulate growth in the industry and attract foreign investment which would benefit the media industry generally.

But the plaintiff, Mr Davies argued amongst other things, that if allowed, the amendment would greatly violate his right to a fair hearing.

He asked the court to uphold his six reliefs as set out in his originating summons.

The plaintiff’s reliefs include “a declaration that the NBC lacks the requisite vires to prohibit exclusivity on privately acquired intellectual property right in program content of a right-holder viz-a-viz the salient provisions of the constitution and the Copyright Act.

“A declaration that the commission acted ultra-vires in so far as it sought to regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria contrary to the provisions of the extant Advertising Practitioners (Registration, etc) Act, 2004.

“A declaration that the commission acted ultra vires when it sought to retroactively compel right holders of programme content to compulsorily share extant right acquired under existing licence under the proposed amendment to the 6th Edition of the NBC Code.

“A declaration that the commission acted ultra vires when it sought to retroactively compel right holders of programme content to compulsorily share extant right acquired through a partnership and /or joint venture with an investor under the proposed Amendment to NBC Code.

“An order setting aside the amendment of the NBC Code and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NBC from implementing the Amendment to the NBC Code.

In his judgment, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held:

“I agree with the submission that acquisition of exclusive rights to Broadcast a particular program is an investment for returns and by virtue of the above-stated provisions, no one should be forced to surrender same when it is lawfully acquired…

“I am in agreement with the plaintiff counsel that the said proposed amendment is a violation of the principle of fair hearing and natural justice. The proposed amendment purports that the defendant NBC shall without any fact-finding or recourse to the other party place the advertising agency on its black list, solely based on the complaint of a media house to the defendant and the defendant acting has the authority to itself shall pass its verdict without hearing the other parties.

“I have determined the questions in the originating summon in favour of the plaintiff.

“For reasons hereinbefore given, consequently, all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff are granted as prayed. That is the judgment of the court .”

Facebook Exec Says It Helped Put Trump In White House

Facebook’s hardware vice president Andrew Bosworth gestures as he speaks during an AFP interview on September 17, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

 

 

A senior Facebook executive on Tuesday said the world’s biggest social network unintentionally helped put Donald Trump in the White House but warned against dramatic rule changes.

The Trump campaign did effectively use Facebook to rally support for his presidential run, and the social network should be mindful of that without making moves that stifle free political discourse, Andrew Bosworth said in a lengthy post on his personal Facebook page triggered by The New York Times publishing an internal memo he wrote.

“So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?” Bosworth asked.

“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks.”

Bosworth contended Trump was not elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica, but rather because he ran “the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser.”

Since Facebook has the same ad policies in place now, the outcome of the 2020 election could be the same as it was four years ago, he added.

Facebook has maintained a hands-off policy on political ads, in contrast with Google which in November placed restrictions on how advertisers can target specific groups of voters.

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear,” Bosworth wrote.

That doesn’t mean Facebook should not draw a line when it comes to how it is used, he reasoned. Clearly inciting violence, thwarting voting, and other blatant transgressions should be banned, but voters should be trusted to decide what kind of leaders they want to elect, according to Bosworth.

“If we don’t want hate-mongering politicians then we must not elect them,” Bosworth wrote.

“If we change the outcomes without winning the minds of the people who will be ruled then we have a democracy in name only. If we limit what information people have access to and what they can say then we have no democracy at all.”

– War rooms –
Bosworth’s comments came with Facebook under pressure to better protect user data and prevent its services from being used to spread misinformation, exacerbate social divides and sway political opinions as was the case in 2016 in the US.

Keeping the social network secure while thwarting misinformation and fending off the competition with new features were among priorities laid out by executives at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday.

“The innovation piece is important to us while we keep people in the company focused on security,” said Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson.

Facebook provided visitors a look at a revamped “Privacy Checkup” tool for users which is rolling out this week.

“What is top of mind for me is regulation and how the privacy landscape is developing,” Everson said.

“We would like help on the regulatory front for privacy and security.”

Facebook priorities this year include preventing the platform from being used by malevolent actors to influence the US election, according to Everson.

The social network is in nearly 200 countries around the world, where scores of elections take place annually and will apply lessons learned through experience to the US, Everson said.

Facebook will once again have a “war room” to coordinate responses to the election or voter manipulation efforts by state actors or others in real-time.

“The war room model has been working around the world,” Everson said.

“We have 70 to 90 elections each year, so we have been getting better. War rooms are part of our strategy.”

Facebook will ban hyper-realistic deepfake videos ahead of the US election but will still allow heavily edited clips so long as they are parody or satire.

Everson re-affirmed Facebook will stick with its controversial policy of allowing politicians to post information proven to be false.

“We do not believe we are in the position to be the arbiter of truth, but we have been clear that we are continuing to evaluate how we can do it better,” Everson said.

“We don’t want people to mislead on our platform.”

Facebook last month took down a network of accounts it said was using fake identities while spreading pro-Trump messages at the social network and its Instagram service.

Channels Television Clinches Best Practice Award

Channels Television has been named winner of the Advertising Best Practice Award at the Advertising Standards Panel Awards which held in Lagos recently.

The organisers of the award ceremony, Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON), had said that Channels Television won for its strict compliance with rules and regulations guiding advertising in Nigeria.

The Chairman, APCON Governing Council, Lolu Akinwumni, commended the Station for being professional in managing its relationship with APCON in line with laid down rules by the Advertising Standards Panel.

Other nominees in the category were AIT, STV and DSTV.

15 other brands and agencies won awards at the event.

Facebook’s Mobile Business Expands In First Quarter

Facebook Inc’s mobile advertising revenue growth gained momentum in the first three months of the year as the social network sold more ads to users on smartphones and tablets, partially offsetting higher spending which weighed on profits.

New types of ads designed for smartphones, particularly ads aimed at enticing Facebook users to install mobile apps on their phones, helped lift revenue while traffic to the social network remained strong.

The results reassured Wall Street that the world’s largest social network was keeping up with consumers’ shift from PCs to smartphones, even if the company provided few big surprises during the first quarter.

Mobile ad revenue accounted for 30 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue in the first quarter, compared to roughly 23 percent in the fourth quarter. Sales of ads on mobile devices have been a key element in the recovery of Facebook’s overall ad revenue from a sharp slowdown early last year.

The first-quarter mobile ad revenue was at the higher end of expectations, said Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter. But he said it “needed to be higher for people to get really excited about trend lines”.

Shares of Facebook, which are down roughly 12 percent since the end of January, were up 7 cents at $27.50 in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

“Everyone was focused on two things, one was mobile and how big it could be, and the other thing was engagement,” said Ronald Josey, an analyst with Jefferies & Co.

Facebook delivered solid results on both fronts, Josey said, noting that consumers’ use of Facebook does not appear to have declined despite a growing array of popular social networking and mobile messaging alternative services, such as Pinterest and WhatsApp.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 28-year-old co-founder and chief executive, told investors on a conference call on Wednesday that there was room for Facebook and rival services to thrive. He said mobile photo-sharing service Instagram, which Facebook acquired last year, was now growing faster than Facebook did at a similar stage in its history.

Facebook said it now counted 1.11 billion monthly active users and about 665 million daily active users.

The company said the number of monthly users who logged on solely through mobile devices more than doubled to 189 million users from a year ago.

Graphic: link.reuters.com/ryp77t

NEW AD PRODUCTS

Created in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, Facebook, along with other established Internet companies such as Google Inc and Yahoo Inc, are moving to reposition their businesses for a world in which consumers’ primary Internet access occurs on small-screened smartphones rather than PCs.

Facebook has rolled out a string of big product launches and revamps in recent months, including an overhaul of its newsfeed and search feature, as well an app for Android smartphones that puts Facebook features front and center on phone homescreens.

The various initiatives have contributed to rising spending, with Facebook’s 60 percent year-on-year increase in costs and expenses outpacing the 38 percent revenue increase.

Facebook said it earned $219 million, or 9 cents a share, in the first three months of the year, compared to $205 million, or 9 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding certain items, Facebook said it earned 12 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S were looking for adjusted EPS of 13 cents.

Facebook executives reiterated previous guidance that spending would be up in 2013 as the company invests in new products and in improving the efficacy of its ads.

One nascent type of mobile advertising pioneered by Facebook — ads that encourage users to install third-party apps — could grow meaningfully, Zuckerberg said.

“We’re starting to see real revenue from mobile app installs,” Zuckerberg said, without giving details. “It’s one of our most important new ad products.”

Facebook’s revenue in the first quarter totaled $1.46 billion, versus $1.06 billion in the year-ago period, and roughly in line with analyst expectations. Advertising revenue was up 43 percent in the first quarter, the fastest growth rate since the end of 2011.

“You are seeing pretty strong revenue growth right now,” said Raymond James analyst Aaron Kessler. But he warned that the revenue growth could slow in coming quarters as Facebook faces tougher year-on-year comparisons.