The Federal Government of Nigeria has assured the entertainment industry of its desire to put an end to piracy, which is currently destroying the industry.
Speaking at a roundtable with stakeholders in the movie industry, tagged “Redefining The Nollywood Strategy,” the Minister of Information and culture, Lai Mohammed promised that his ministry will partner with relevant agencies of government to tackle the challenge.
Mohammed, also promised that the Federal Government would establish a national endowment fund for the art sector, while acknowledging that lack of funding poses a major challenge to the industry.
He said: “My immediate suggestion is for us to declare piracy as an economic crime, have a regulatory direction, domesticate most of the international conventions on piracy, review and strengthen existing copyright law as well as make the punishment for copyright more stringent so as to discourage pirates.
“Perhaps a longer jail term with no option of fine and a speedy trial of suspects as we have in other countries will help in this fight. I think also that the entertainment industry is ripe enough to have a dedicated National Task Force on Piracy. We shall propose that and see how it all works out for the good of our cultural industries and the nation. We truly need a proactive enforcement of the copyright law so as to make the creative industry lucrative.”
“Like the American model, we should at this time – when we are trying to streamline spending – think of having a properly established National Endowment for the Arts that will service all genre of the arts. I have no doubt that the establishment of NEA will facilitate the introduction of Tax Rebates as incentives for sponsors of the arts and will give prime place to the arts and cultural sector in budgeting processes, since it has capacity to create massive job opportunities.
“The good news is that, as part of our massive social intervention policy, this administration has made available the sum of N500 billion naira to be accessed by creative people like you as well as artisans, market women, unemployed youths and others.”
On tackling the issue of movie distribution, the minister was dissatisfied with the present chaotic distribution network and promised to come up with an effective policy and strategy to tackle this challenge.
“A possible strategy is for us to have an Investment Forum where we can attract real investment in the area of distribution of entertainment content. At the moment, we have very small players in that sector. We need to attract big corporations and we can do that through an investment forum, where we will show them what they stand to gain from investing in distribution, and of course we shall present incentives that will attract them, ” Mohammed noted.
“Besides, I am proposing that we hold an annual Film Market that will grow into a huge tourism event and will emerge as the biggest content market in the continent. Such events have potentials of attracting investors to an industry. We shall also look at the provision in the film policy that encourages the state to invest in the setting up of community cinemas in the 774 local government areas of the country.”
He frowned at the manner in which foreign soaps are widely aired on television and cable TV stations operating in the country, and urged them to adopt the method obtained in other parts of the world, where television and cable stations sponsor the contents aired on their stations.
Mohammed also advocated for the major players in the entertainment industry on the need to come under one umbrella in order to better handle their problems, instated of the current disjointed bodies in the industry.
The event, which was attended by popular Nollywood actors and actresses was held at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Media Centre, Iganmu-Lagos.
Augmenting the minister’s proposal, Nollywood actress and producer, Ms Kate Henshaw, urged the minister to dedicate some days in a year for the remembrance of some industry actors and actresses who had passed away.