The Media Blog: Why does the Lagos government want to regulate online?

Ambode

We know many people didn’t really pay attention, but they should have. Anytime a politician muses about ‘regulating’ any party of the media, all hackles should be up.

In this case, the Lagos government suddenly woke up and decided to review the 14-year-old Newspapers Law.

“In view of the realisation that the State Newspapers Cap Law is obsolete, the state government has begun the process of reviewing existing Newspapers Law Cap No2 of 2003 with a view to making it more effective and in tune with modern reality,” said information commissioner, Steve Ayorinde last week. “The review attempt is not to stifle the media. The idea is to move with the trends and development of the time. It is for the good of the journalism profession.”

The question is why.

Was anyone complaining about anything with the old laws? Did anyone mention the challenges practitioners or consumers are facing? Because the only people ever to complain are the powerful, especially the politically powerful.

There is a sense from people government always, that regulation is a good thing. And Ayorinde didn’t disappoint: “You can’t operate as a print and not be registered with the ministry. The media space has been going through transformation and the review is in line with the changes in the media space.”

According to Ayorinde, who also claimed 90 percent of the nation’s online media is based in Lagos, “the unavailability of the true figure of the publishing media houses that operate in the state is a great challenge in terms of documentation and billings”.

Billings? We thought there was already a tax agency for that?

It just appears to be a waste of time, or someone lacking for much to do trying to throw their weight around. Or worse, someone wants the power to decide who publishes what.

Media practitioners should be ready to storm those promised public hearings. Let us not hear story later.

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