Nollywood Affairs | 7 May 2009 21:33 CET

NFVCB boss seeks second term


After serving for four years as chairman of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Emeka Mba, has said he would be glad to be given the opportunity to serve again.

"Do I feel I still have more to contribute to the Board? Yes, I think so. I won't say I am being immodest by saying this. It's the decision of the President and the minister of information and communications that counts. I think they will make their determination based on the work I have done when the time comes. The minister obviously will review my work; she will ask questions and make her judgement," he said.

Mba said that he was not surprised because in any given position there would be criticisms, and that those criticisms have rather helped him to correct and make adjustments in areas that were necessary.

"Some people think you have to be aggressive to head the Censors Board. I have been lucky in the sense that I served as the director-general of the Board at, what many believe is, a pretty young age. The film industry is dynamic and challenging, if I may put it that way, and it helps to have an open-door policy. It helps when you listen to people and rub minds with them. It helps when you don't come into office with a preconceived agenda rather than sanitising the industry to see that it grows.

"It shows that you are committed and passionate about the industry even when you have disagreement with certain people over issues or policy direction. I have been criticised and friends who used to reason with me are now opposing me. But I believe our disagreements have never been personal. They have always been about differing on the level of principles. So, I would say that I have been lucky because we have kept our arguments essentially on the job and not on a personal level. And I would give it all to God for the grace to manage people because you may have a degree in human resource management, but, ultimately, it is God who sees you through," he said.

Mba, a one-time staff of MultiChioce Nigeria, cleared issues surrounding the perceived negative effects of Africa Magic on Nollywood. He said that all the accusations suggesting a conceived master plan of handing Nollywood over to Mnet were false.

"When you put these accusations to logic or you put them side by side with the policies of the Censors Board, you will understand that they are not making sense. I don't work for Africa Magic; in any case, these producers have been selling their films to Mnet before I became DG. The fact of the matter is that the producers sell their films as part of their commercial considerations. What some people do not understand is that we are not the regulators of the broadcast industry; the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is in charge," he explained.

He said that the deals people enter into with the broadcast stations are not the Board's businesses stressing that it is only when a station broadcasts a film that has not been classified that the Board comes in.

"More importantly, it is the choice of a producer to do with Africa Magic or not. I left Africa Magic (MultiChoice) not necessarily on a cheerful note, because I disagreed with some of their policies. At the point I left, I felt they had nothing more to offer me and I had nothing more to offer them. I was partly responsible for establishing Africa Magic, I take pride in that, but the criticism doesn't make sense," he said.

He revealed that one decision his administration did not find easy was the introduction of the distribution network for marketers in 2007.

"When we launched the distribution framework in 2007, we never set out to lock out anybody from the industry. What we said was that we have put up guidelines and policies that anyone who wants to be a player in industry must adhere to. Obviously, these policies are targeted at formalising the movie industry and not to suffocate the smaller companies. I read the interviews one of the people we licensed gave to a number of newspapers, saying that the Censors Board's licensing of smaller companies wasn't part of his agreement with us. I daresay that we do not have such an agreement with anyone," he said.

He continued: "If you go back to the document for the distribution framework, it is stated clearly that any company that meets the guidelines for distribution will be given a licence. The NFVCB act does not give me or anybody the power to license mega distributors. The law states clearly that we can license national, regional, state and local government-based distributors. If you look at the law again it states how much a new or an old distributor pays as licence fees at the topmost level, which is N500, 000 and N200, 000. In the case of existing marketers the N200, 000 is for two years. But the same people were the ones who went around saying that we asked them to pay N50 million as licence even when they knew that it was untrue and that the guidelines for the distribution framework is a public document, which anyone can access."

He said all those who are making those arguments are not ingenuous, maybe they are not happy with the way things have turned out, as it may not be what they expected, adding: “They thought the Board would act out a script they had written but we operate according to the law."

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