Filmmaker Requests Court to Prohibit Broadcasting Code Enforcement

In the lawsuit filed on September 4, Obidike seeks a permanent injunction order barring the NBC, the sole defendant in the case, and any of its agents or proxies from implementing the above parts of the code.
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Justice and Law

Cas Chidiebere Obidike, film producer and director, has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to prohibit the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from implementing the sixth edition of the National Broadcasting Code forever.

The amended code, which has continued to generate controversy, was unveiled by information and culture minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Lagos last month.

In a fundamental human rights suit (No. FHC/L/CS/1211/2020) filed before the court on his behalf by his counsel, Mr. Emeka Okpoko (SAN) of Straddle Partners, Obidike said paragraphs 6.2.11, 6.2.3, 6.2.4 and 6.2.17 of the code constitute gross violations of his fundamental human rights and freedom of expression enshrined in sections 37 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

In the lawsuit filed on September 4, Obidike seeks a permanent injunction order barring the NBC, the sole defendant in the case, and any of its agents or proxies from implementing the above parts of the code.

In support of the originating motion in the affidavit, Obidike said paragraphs 6.2.3, 6.2.4 and 6.2.17 infringe his right to privacy or have a probability of infringing his fundamental human rights.

According to him, the clause of the National Broadcasting Code requiring broadcasting rights to sporting events to be submitted to the NBC for ratification within two weeks, as provided for in paragraph 6.2.3, and the revocation of rights in the event of non-compliance, as noted in paragraph 6.2.4, would compel him to reveal business secrets found in sale/acquisition of broadcasting contracts

He also argued that the code would infringe confidentiality provisions incorporated into contractual contracts under which contracting parties are bound to comply.

Obidike claimed that paragraph 6.2.17, which allows a broadcaster to provide, within 14 days, the original or certified true copy of the agreements and other documents by which such material has been properly acquired, forbids him as a private citizen of Nigeria from participating in the film and production industry and contravenes his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 constitution (as amended).

Citing Order ii, Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, the claimant insisted that any person who considers there to be a violation of fundamental human rights may bring legal action against that individual or organization.

The affidavit partly read:

“In the course of my business in the industry, I enter into contracts of sale/acquisition of broadcasting rights to movies and other media productions in which terms such as “confidentiality” are agreed upon in order to protect the parties’ interest such as privacy to business secrets against outsiders.

“In view of the above paragraphs of the 6th edition to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, I risk protection of my privacy to my business secrets usually contained in contracts of sale/acquisition of broadcasting rights to movies and other media productions which I enter into in the industry.

“That a contract of sale/acquisition of broadcasting rights described above once submitted to the Respondent, the contractual document becomes a public document which members of the public are entitled to apply for and obtain certified true copies of thereby creating a likelihood of my constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy being jeopardised.”

Obidike further argued that paragraph 6.2.11, which forbids the broadcast of advertising of products and services during prime international sporting content if such advertiser does not similarly sponsor such products and services of prime local sport content in the same category, infringes or is likely to infringe his fundamental human right to freedom of speech.

The affidavit read:
“In order to promote, impart ideas and information regarding my products which consist in released movies, upcoming movies and other media productions to a larger audience, I often advertise these products in prime foreign sports contents at costs within his financial capacity.

“I believe from Counsel’s information that by virtue of paragraph 6.2.11 of the 6th edition to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, I am likely to suffer a limitation to my freedom to express information and ideas about my products as the said paragraph now imposes an advertisement platform as well as an increased cost of advertisement which I may not be able to meet up with, on me.”

The document further stated:

“Your lordship, the provisions of paragraph 6.2.11, 6.2.3, 6.2.4 and 6.2.17 of the Respondent’s 6th edition to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code offend the letters and spirit of the provisions of sections 37 and 39 of the Constitution, in that they contravene or have a likelihood of contravening the Applicant’s fundamental human rights thereunder.”

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