NCC, DSS clamp down on illegal broad stations

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 Evelyn Osagie

 

NIGERIAN Copyright commission (NCC), in joint enforcement operations with the Department of State Services (DSS) in Aba and Umuahia, Abia State, has closed down three broadcasting facilities engaged in pirating the broadcast signals of several right owners, including  Star Times, Communications Trends Nigeria Limited (CTL) and MultiChoice Nigeria (MCN).

The illegal broadcasting stations were sealed and broadcast contrivances impounded for being deployed in the illegal distribution of pay TV channels and unauthorised retransmission of other cable TV’s protected contents in violation of the Copyright Act, said NCC.

“Based on intelligence and surveillance reports, the broadcast facilities of Popular Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Modern Communication Limited (MCL) being used for copyright infringement activities were confiscated on Thursday, March 12, 2020 while employees engaged in broadcast piracy were arrested during joint enforcement operations by three separate teams of NCC and DSS operatives.

“Following months of surveillance and intelligence gathering, the illicit broadcast operations at the three facilities located in Aba and Umuahia, in Abia State were interrupted when Copyright Inspectors from NCC and DSS operatives raided the facilities,” the State Coordinator of NCC Rivers State Office, Mrs. Ifeoma Ezinma, said.

Equipment found on the premises of the illegal broadcasters included those for the retransmission of Star Times, Communications Trends Nigeria Limited (CTL) TV and MultiChoice Nigeria (MCN) contents. Also recovered were broadcasting decoders for Ben Sports, Canal Plus and other contrivances used for their illegal activities in violation of the provisions of the Copyright Act.

At the raid,  the NCC Director-General, Mr. John O. Asein, who was represented by Mrs. Ezinma, stated that the commission was out to fight copyright piracy in various industries.

He thanked the DSS  Director-General for the operational and logistic support that made the raid and arrests possible. In his words, “The joint operation is a demonstration of a common objective of relevant agencies to ensure that the laudable economic policies being introduced by government are not thwarted by the illegal activities of unscrupulous persons”.

According to Asein, the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government to reposition the broadcast industry and ensure a safe and investment- friendly legal framework call for a more-proactive copyright enforcement strategy. He assured investors in the creative sector, particularly the broadcast industry, that the commission would continue to ensure that they enjoyed safe corridors to guarantee returns on their investment.

He said investigation into the activities of the suspects would commence soon, and any copyright infractions would be prosecuted while other criminal activities would be reported to relevant agencies for further action. He appealed to the public to desist from patronising copyright pirates and urged them to report suspected copyright violations to the commission.

One of the arrested operators, who claimed that he once had a broadcast licence from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), however, confessed that the licence had since lapsed.