It has become somewhat farcical at this point. For months before hand, Endemol and Multichoice heavily promote their new season of Big Brother Nigeria, giving the federal government ample time to either censor the show or ban it entirely (spoiler: it can’t, Big Brother and the BBNaija franchising is aired on pay-per-view cable and not on Nigerian terrestrial network and as such is not beholden to the National Broadcasting Commission).
The Big Brother franchise is also pretty explicit about what the show entails. A preset number of adults, whose every move is being recorded 24/7, perform tasks and try to win an audience with their personalities and strategies and survive long enough in isolation to win a cash prize. The show is rated 18 by the South African and Nigerian Censor’s Board for sexual content and profane language and given its own specific channel so there is no confusion as to what the show is about.
So please, someone explain why the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Seun Runsewe, has currently on behalf of the federal government lodged a complaint with the National Brodcasting Commission to petition the show for its ‘immorality’.
That alone is strange enough, that sans some blurry videos of simulated grinding, there is no proof any of this happened; Runsewe took it a step further to suggest that the Federal Government sponsor its own alternative BBNaija show with cable network Startimes to ‘reflect the true Nigerian culture where Nigerian food would be eaten and Nigerian dresses worn’.
It is copyright infringement to attempt to replicate the BBNaija format without a franchising license from the show, and again it is a pay-per-view cable show with adequate checks and balances to ensure that only adults who want to watch the show can. When will our government stop trying to censor sexuality and actually focus on improving the media industry?
It is starting to feel like maybe this is too much to ask of them.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.