Nigeria: NBC Can’t Regulate Advertising in Nigeria – Court

Lagos — A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has held that the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, acted beyond its powers by seeking to regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria.

The trial judge, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa, held that the NBC lacks the power to prohibit exclusivity on privately acquired intellectual property right in programme contents of a right holder.

The court also set aside the proposed amendment to the 6th Edition of the NBC Code for being ultra vires, incompetent, null and void, and perpetually restrained the commission from implementing it.

The judge gave judgment in the suit by Mr. Femi Davies.

Davies argued, among others, that if allowed, the amendment would greatly violate his right to a fair hearing.

He urged the court to uphold his six prayers as set out in his originating summons.

The plaintiff’s reliefs include a declaration that the commission lacks the requisite vires to prohibit exclusivity on privately acquired intellectual property right in program content of a right-holder viz-a-viz the salient provisions of the constitution and the Copyright Act.

In his judgment, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held: “I agree with the submission that acquisition of exclusive rights to Broadcast a particular program is an investment for returns and by the above-stated provisions, no one should be forced to surrender same when it is lawfully acquired…

“I agree with the plaintiff counsel that the said proposed amendment is a violation of the principle of fair hearing and natural justice. The proposed amendment purports that the defendant NBC shall without any fact-finding or recourse to the other party place the advertising agency on its black list, solely based on the complaint of a media house to the defendant and the defendant acting has the authority to itself shall pass its verdict without hearing the other parties.

“I have determined the questions in the originating summon in favour of the plaintiff.

“For reasons hereinbefore given, consequently, all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff are granted as prayed. That is the judgment of the court.”

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