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Lagos Govt. suspends films censor board secretary over unauthorised levy

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Lagos State Government has suspended Executive Secretary of the state Film and Video Censors Board, Bamidele Balogun, for directing media organisations, entertainment producers and marketers to a pay a levy on all audio and visual content produced and shared on physical and digital platforms in the state.

Balogun was said to have been suspended by the state government following complaints from the affected organisations that kicked against the new development and complained to the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, describing the levy as anti-development.

The suspended secretary was said to have allegedly given the directives without due consultation with the governor before dispatching letters to the organisations for compliance with the new development in Lagos.

In the letter dated August 31st and titled ‘Implementation of 5% levy on all audio and visual content on all physical and digital platforms’ and sited by The Guild, Balogun was said to have given a seven days ultimatum to the effected media organisations, content producers and marketers to pay and avoid been penalised by the government for their refusal in the state.

To douse the tension that had trailed the directives, the state government through a statement signed by Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, yesterday, clarified that there was no levy on audio and visual contents disseminated through any of the physical and digital platforms in Lagos.

It stated that the present administration was sensitive to current challenges confronting the industry particularly since the outbreak of COVID -19 pandemic and that it empathises with stakeholders in the sector and other sectors grappling with survival after the virus broke out.

“The Government hereby dissociates itself from the said announcement in the media. The Executive Secretary, who was not authorised to make such an announcement, has been suspended, pending an administrative enquiry”.

While appealing to stakeholders’ in the entertainment industry to disregard the said publication, the government explained that fifth pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda, the development policy of this Administration, was Entertainment and Tourism.

According to the government, practitioners are partners in our effort to ensure that Lagos State sustain its pride and remains Africa’s leader in entertainment.

Earlier, Balogun said: “You have been served notice as a necessary procedure and you are obliged to comply within seven days from the due of receipt of this notification. The five per cent is a way of getting practitioners in the entertainment industry committed to the board who in return, create an enabling environment for them to operate in Lagos.

“All practitioners involved in production, sales, distributions, marketing, exhibition, streaming, downloading, shearing of audio and visual products are required to comply with the development.”

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