Censors Board DG, Bala, from slumber, meets stakeholders

 Ms. Patricia Bala

Ms. Patricia Bala

The Director General, National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Ms. Patricia Bala, accompanied by her management team last week held closed door meetings with the executives of major associations in the film industry on ways to sanitise the sector.

The meeting with stakeholders by the board’s head is the first since Bala headship of the board and comes barely two weeks after the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed held a close door meeting with key stakeholders where he lamented the lack of regulatory direction in the Nigeria motion picture industry. At that meeting, Mohammed acknowledged the dire need for purposeful, practical, dynamic and experienced leadership at the helms of affairs of three agencies directly related to the film industry.

The minister mentioned the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and National Theatre as the agencies whose headship “has been anti-intellectual, secretive and monotonous.” Mohammed also acknowledged that he had received complaints “that those that have been appointed to run those parastatals have shown lack of capacity to put the industry on the path of growth especially in this era of change.”

He then promised the stakeholders that all the parastatals under his supervision would experience change in a matter of months, noting, “Where we need to appoint, we shall appoint professionals/artists as heads of art relevant parastatals and they must come to the job with pragmatic approach, one that will add value to the lives of culture producers. Once we do that we shall set up machinery for effective monitoring of all cultural agencies to ensure that they are well managed and performing to the best interest of the artists and the creative industry practitioners”.

Observers are, therefore, convinced that a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos by the NFVCB is directly inspired by the minister’s earlier visit and his promised to re-energise the agencies.

But at Bala’s meeting with executives of Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN), Yoruba Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (YOVIFPMAN), Video Rental Operators Association of Nigeria (VROAN) and Video Club Owners Association of Nigeria (VCOAN), Bala stated that she decided to pay the filmmakers a visit and get first hand information about their challenges. She noted that the board would continue to provide enabling environment for them to operate and that the meeting, the first by a director general to any of the associations in the film industry, would bring a more harmonious relationship between the board and the associations in the sector.

According to Bala, “I prefer dialogue to fighting, which is why I decided to come to pay your organizations courtesy visits where we can lay bare all those issues that have hampered members of your associations from performing optimally”.

Bala regretted that there was a significant drop in the number of films brought to the board for censorship and classification. She also decried the rising number of movies in multiple parts and described them as unacceptable. According to her, “Parts 1,2,3 films are akin to serials, which is what obtains on television. It is unlawful to break a film into numerous parts, as is the practice like a television serial and push them into the market. The board will always insist you merge them when you bring them for censorship”.

Though curbing piracy is not part of the mandate of the board, the DG reassured the executives of the various associations that her board was collaborating with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to minimise the impact of piracy on their operations.  She stated that the Board is re-strategizing on the production of seals for film jackets to rid the market of uncensored and unclassified movies.

Bala also informed that it was because of the interest in the growth of the film industry that the board and the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at eradicating duplication of fees by the two government agencies while limiting censorship decisions with the board.

President, Yoruba Video producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (YOVIFPMAN), Alhaji Abdulahi Abdulrasaq, was full of praises for the Director General, and commended her for keeping to her words in the publication she made in a national daily. He assured the DG that the association was fully compliant and would assist the board to return the sector to its glory days.

On the complaints in the delay in getting their films censored, Bala said, “We are aware of that challenge, but we do not want to upload your films on the Internet as it may enter into wrong hands”.

She stated that the board was negotiating with NIPOST to deliver films same day by road, while censorship decisions would be communicated via the magpie.

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