It seems in the next few months, your favourite Instagram comedians and Youtube content creators might need to lawyer up or face the wrath of the Lagos state government, channelled through the Lagos State Film and Video Censor’s Board (LSFVCB). The LSFVCB (which is separate from the National Film and Video Censors Board and has separate laws and jurisdictions) has announced that it is issuing a 30-day notice on content producers to ‘duly register their content with the board’.
Before we go forward, it is pertinent to ask, who exactly leads these organization. Do they have any idea how content creation works? Do they understand contemporary content creation revenue streams? At what point does it become essential for a content creator to ‘duly register’ their ‘content’ with the board? When a piece of content goes viral? At the point of conceptualization? What happens when a content creator is commissioned by a third party to create content, who then registers the content, the organization who owns the content or the creator commissioned to create it?
There are so many questions that remain answered and suggests to us that the LSFVCB has not done any research on how content creation works and how they can incentivize content creators to even bother to register their content with the board.
But of course, the board Executive Secretary, Mr Bamidele Balogun gave this directive at an event to unveil a platform that is supposed to ‘track and generate revenue’ created by the Performing Musicians Employers Association (PMAN) and Lafrique Promedia. Again why is PMAN creating a platform to ‘generate revenue’ for content creators when content creators are already doing a great job of monetizing their content. Why does this reek of Eko Cab?
Then of course, here comes the punchline as delivered by Mr. Bamidele Balogun.
“The board will advise practitioners involved in production, sale, distribution of audio and visual products to register their products through the board’s authorised agent within 30 days.
Practitioners and stakeholders are also informed that henceforth, all audio and visual contents produced and sold within Lagos State shall attract the payment of five per cent levy on each item.
This exercise will, however, assist the Lagos State Government in policy formulation, with regard to planning and funding for the sector.”
As usual, strict sanctions are being threatened for anyone who does not register with the board and remit the 5% levy, a familiar governance tactic. Punish rather than incentivize.
We have questions.
Why is the State government taxing content creators during a pandemic?
Why is the State seeking rent on legitimate businesses and treating policy formulation as an afterthought?
Why are Nigerian government obsessed with crushing small business and nascent business sectors in exchange for some quick cash?
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.