THE ABARITION OF PRODUCERS PAYING FOR AIRTIME.

Posted by: beya in Untagged  on Print PDF

ONLY IN NIGERIA do TV Stations stifle the creativity of Program producers by not only having them fund the production of their programs but ask them to pay for the Airtime if the want to have these programs broadcast to an audience. The norm the world over is that Television Stations not only fund their own in-house productions, they sometimes commission Independent Productions Houses or producers to produce programs for them. In the alternative, they buy in programs from independent program production houses or producers. Recently Public Broadcaster in South Africa SABC (equivalent of NTA here in Nigeria) caused consternation among the independent production industry by its non-payment of more than R60M (N1.2 Billion) in production fees. The figure is quoted here to show the level of funding available for production from a broadcaster to ensure production of quality programs. What do we have here in Nigeria; Television Stations want production houses to pay for airtime to broadcast their programs to an audience. This trend must be resisted by all production houses and program producers as this not only stifles creativity, it stunts the growth of an industry that should be vibrant and giving employment to myriad of young Nigerians who would other wise be unemployed. It is bad enough that the previous practice of income sharing from advertising on a program at an agreed basis between the Television company and the independent producers was a compromise that producers had to live with but to turn around and ask that producers purchase airtime to air their programs after incurring the cost of producing the program is unconscionable. This anomaly is succinctly put across by a leading Nigerian Producer in a media interview where she said; “What is supposed to be done is that TV stations commission people to make soap for them or people make soaps and sell it to TV stations while TV stations come to the market like what M-net is doing. That means the stations can sell it to as many TV stations all over the world. But once it is a Nigerian programme, the stations tell you what we do is sell airtime. So I make the programme and find money to pay for your airtime which government gave you as a public trust because the airtime belongs to the Nigerian people. It was given to you to manage, so we now put our own programme on air at our own expense. When people could not fund the airtime, they say let's sell and share the advert revenue, so I put the programme on air. it is running and filling your blank time and you tell me to go and find adverts. I run around and get a few adverts and we share the profit 50:50. You haven't lost money but I've lost money because I funded the programme. So, it is a chicken and hen thing. That is why we are not having quality programmes. Our TV stations will not improve until they are ready to spend money on quality programmes”. This situation of paying for airtime is stifling creativity in the industry. Maybe a reversal to sharing advert revenue may be a compromise but not the ideal. This means that Television companies should evaluate the suitability and viability of any program for their station and then airs the program at an agreed sharing ratio for income generated from advertising aired on the program. It is also imperative that the station jointly source for the advertisements that will air on said program. It in unfair to ask independent production houses and producers to pay for airtime. All independent production houses and producers should resist this practice. Your views and comments on this are welcome.