The NFVCB, through its leadership, recently presented film and movie distributors and exhibitors in the Nigerian movie industry operational licences. Catherine Agbo in this piece brings to fore the benefits therein.

Nigeria’s film and movie industry is the third largest in the world, after United States of America’s Hollywood, and India’s Bollywood.

Nollywood accounts for over 2000 films every year, but piracy and uncensored movies have been the bane of the industry.

Despite its status in the global market, it was evident there were no standards in the industry, as movie producers themselves continued to churn out low quality and substandard movies into the market everyday.

The movie industry in Nigeria lacks structure, and the preponderance for infighting among the guild is the order of the day. This poses a real threat to the industry, but in the midst of gloom and doom, there are those who remain optimistic about the future.

The National Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB, noticed the unique dynamics and constraints in the Nigerian film industry, and the Director General of the Board, Mr Emeka Mba, as part of his vision to make Nigeria live up to its position as the third largest movie / film making country in the world, initiated a project known as Nigeria In the Movies, NIM.

The project was geared towards redefining the identity, influence and character, as well as the image of the movie industry.

The Board from experience came to the conclusion that “effective regulation comes from the ability of the regulator to affect the mind and thinking of the creative artist, even before his work is made available for public appreciation “.

The driving spirit behind all the activities of Nigeria In the Movies, one of which is the distribution framework, is to raise the industry profile of Nollywood, and the Nigerian film sector, as an industry of strategic national importance, with authentic global influence for which the ultimate beneficiary will be Nigeria.

The laws governing the operations of NFVCB Act 1993 provide among others that “it is a criminal offence to distribute or exhibit a film or video work that has not been registered with the board “, according to section 28 of the NFVCB Act.

By virtue of the statue establishing it, the board drew up a process of licencing existing and potential distributors and exhibitors in the industry.

The process is the New Distribution Framework, NDF.The concept arose out of the challenge and need to restructure the distribution system, in line with the statutory mandate of the board to arrest the drift in that area and ensure that the operations become more formal and structural in such a way as to lend itself to basic auditing standards, generate transparent performance records, and be able to establish a synergy with other sectors of the economy. The process is also aimed at infusing structure and accountability in the business processes of all organisations that distribute or exhibit films and video works, in line with the provisions of its enabling law.

The board, believing that an effective and efficient distribution framework will certainly turn the industry around, and make it sustainable, as part of activities preceding the formal take off of the New Distribution framework in the industry, introduced new security seals which have classification symbols inscribed in them.

The essence of the framework, according to the Director General of the board, Mr Emeka Mba, ” is to make sure the classification decisions the board gives are strictly complied with”.

The board also disclosed that the framework is not about recapitalization, but a total reengineering of the distribution system, which is intended to give confidence to the boards censorship and classification decisions, and act as the driver for the much – needed improvement, and self – reliance in the industry.

The NFVCB, led by its Director General, together with the Minister of Information and Communication, Mr John Odey, presented licences to distributors and exhibitors on 5th December, 2008.

The event, which was the culmination of three years of hard work by the management and staff of the board, is the first of its kind in the history of the film and movie industry in Nigeria.

At the event, 36 national distributors and exhibitors, as well as 80 regional distributors and exhibitors were presented operational licences.

The Director-General of the board, said the industry had a global promise, but the situation at home must be enabling enough for the global role to be effective.

The NFVCB is desirous of seeing credible players who have or can show the capacity to undertake the task of effectively and efficiently distributing films across the country, and therefore driving growth in the film industry.

What the board has done is to use its existing legal and statutory powers to effect a positive reformation of the Nigerian film industry, to ensure that a sustainable industry is created, to provide employment, contribute to national growth through tax payments, and auditable processes, which are known and credible.

The distribution activities, NFVCB noted, will drive content, introduce simple processes that are auditable, and create the basis for keeping track of performances of each movie product in the market. Through this, the true market depth and capacity will be confirmed and enlarged substantially, to meet the financial needs of the industry.

It is also worth mentioning that the success of the New Distribution Framework did not come without criticism, as the initiative was received with a lot of skepticism, by the major players in the movie industry. There is however fulfillment within the industry today, as the journey of three years has paid off, giving credence to the saying that ” there is light at the end of every tunnel .

The presentation of these licences, therefore heralds the beginning of a new era in Nigeria’s movie industry. Apart from the numerous benefits of the framework already highlighted, it will offer Nigerians mass employment and multiple investment opportunities. Unemployed youths in the country can also benefit by registering, to be licensed as community distributors, in the project.

All stakeholders in the movie industry must therefore work towards ensuring the survival of this laudable initiative because movies matter.