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Producer cries over broadcast right violation

THE time was 9.30am. The sky was clear on this September morning in 2009. No threat of rainfall. Charles Uche Ayika, a Nollywood producer, sat in front of his television, legs straddled. He sat patiently watching the television, while he waited for his business partners to come as promised. He asked for his meal to be prepared, while he watched the television.

After some minutes, he stood up, stared out of the window to see an on coming vehicle drive to the parking lot. As soon as he discovered it was not the one he expected, he was disappointed. The disappointment walled off, at least, when he was told his meal was ready. He went to the dining and settled down to his meals. He was on the meal, when he heard the sound track of his movie, Arrows of Love. He felt a surge of anxiety. He quickly left his meal and rushed to the TV side to see what had happened. Suddenly, he saw a commercial announcing that the movie would be broadcast. He was surprised. At the same time, he was filled with rage. He wondered when and how he sold broadcast right of the film to any TV station, let alone, MyTV.

As he sat wondering on how to enforce his right, when and if eventually it is broadcast, he heaved a great sigh.

“You can imagine how I felt… a film that has not even recouped 10 per cent of the amount expended on the production,” he said. “Arrows of Love was released to the Nigerian film market on November 3, 2008, only to have it seven months afterwards, precisely in June 2009.”

According to him, “I discovered the copyright infringement in September 2009; known dates of this broadcast were September 24, 2009 and October 11, 2009 on their TV Africa channel 37.”

He recorded it on CD and got his solicitors KC Okolocha and Associates to write MyTV with his findings and claims of damages. On November 30, 2009, his solicitors wrote the pay TV company, and the reply they got was shocking to him. “They asked me to go to the people that sold the broadcast right to them, naming Mr Romanus Ibiam Eze of Romey Bright Productions Limited and Mr Godson Uzo Nwosu of Gunik Investment Limited,” he said, his voice infused with surprise and anger. “I was not comfortable with this because I never sold my broadcast right to the named people for MyTV, Abuja.”

Ayika proceeded to Nigeria Copyright Commission, Abuja, for settlement or possible prosecution of the matter. The enforcement unit of NCC investigated into the matter, and at a point the pay TV company opted for Copyright, Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation Programme (CLAMP) in writing to the DG of NCC for settlement.

Surprisingly, as Ayika noted, “in the middle of the journey, walked its old path by placing liability on messrs Romanus Eze and Godson Nwosu with serious disengagement from CLAMP, but now attached a disclaimer to my censorship of the film Arrows of Love, part 1 & 2. This they did with Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board’s (NFVCB) letter headed paper and presented it as signed by the board. Of course, I have reported the matter to NFVCB office at Abuja.”

Both Eze and Nwosu, through their lawyers, claim Ayika sold the broadcast right for MyTV to them, with a court affidavit, they swore to, as his ‘appointed agents’, but without any ‘Letter of Authority’ from him.

The question Ayika wants answered is Why affidavit and Why is it that they don’t have covering note or any letter of authority?

According to him, “Nigeria Broadcasting code section 3.1.11. Class B says the broadcast or re-broadcast of any content shall be only with the express permission of the right owner. Piracy strictly prohibited.’ That is my backbone in the attempt to enforce my right.”

He said, “Eze claimed he paid into my First Bank account for MyTV, but the right I sold to him is for Nollywood Channel, UK, of which he made delayed but instalmental payments (on February 23, 2009 and July 3, 2009). I have everything documented in his own handwriting and duly signed by him, using his own company’s letter headed paper.”

On what he wants now, Ayika said, “let MyTV do the right thing before the matter goes out of hand. We’ve been told to settle out of court but I don’t know why they are still dragging their feet behind. By next week, if nothing is done, the case will surely go to court.”



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