Read Chris Ubosi’s Speech At #NECLIVE – ‘Role Of Media In Developing The Industry Of Our Dreams’
The purpose of this paper is not really to provide answerS but to be able to make
recommendations to us, because there are clearly more people in this panel and this
audience that are a lot more knowledgeable in this industry than I am.
It is a frame option so that we as stakeholders can see a clearer path towards of achieving
the best of our collective interest. I have here the topic of ‘The role of the media in creating
the industry of our dreams’. If you look through the roles of the media when you look back
at how the industry has evolved and how the industry is right now. We would look at media
consumption patterns and we would seek out ways which in my humble opinion, we can seek
out the industry of our dreams. The media is considered to be a mirror of the world society.
Recently, there’s been a whole lot of discussion about what shapes or influences the society;
is it the media that does it or is it the society? In these days of feedbacks, you know you put
something out and there’s instant feedback, with the whole social media.
If what you put out is not what the consumer wants to consume, it gets told right back to you
and that in effect affects your programming, so there’s a debate out there on what exactly
Private broadcasting is relatively young in Nigeria. It started in 1990 when there was one
national radio, one TV network. Ray Power was the first private station, but now we have
evolved to 150 regional radio stations and 3 national networks-one of which is government
owned and the other two, Ray Power and Silverbird. We have 40 terrestrial TV stations and 3
national TV networks as well.
The industry has had a significant feedback from Nollywood and the music industry. I
remember earlier on when Kenny Ogungbe was making his presentation, he was talking
about recording music on CDs. The actual story is that, at that time when we started private
broadcasting, we had to play 40% Nigerian music – and you can only play so many Fela and
King Sunny Ade songs. So we actually said, just bring your CD and we would play it. And
that, I think is where the whole music explosion came from. I would like to lean towards the
fact that it influenced Nollywood and local TV production as well.
A history of the Nigerian media: in the 60s the role of the traditional media was mainly far
from what we have now…media feedback and programming was rigid. It was a one way
thing- starting at a certain time and closing at a certain time.
In the 70s and 80s, entertainment reflected into the media, as the younger generations were
a little more interested. In the 90s, cables became available giving you a lot more access to
foreign contents, CDs and DVDs come to be.
At the time private licenses were issued to corporations to run radio stations, Ray Power FM
and Rhythm FM came out as pioneer radio stations at the time and now we have over 150
radio stations. Radio stations run on two way interaction, now we have multiflex cinemas, we
consume new media in multiple platforms.
The media industry is valued at $650million, the music industry, at about $105million;
the Nollywood is valued at almost a billion dollars now. The key things is there are over a
100million mobile phones in circulation, 45million internet users in Nigeria and 54million
people in Nigeria probably use mobile phones. Social media is fast becoming an integral
part of entertainment. Those are key figures from the Social media Week, where we see that
Nigeria has the largest tweets in Africa and the second largest Facebook access.
The industry of our dreams…
If you just take a minute to think about what you would like, ideally, to see in this industry.
This is what I would like to see: the ideal media industry from my stand point is one where we
are on a path to realizing the potential that the world acknowledges that we have. I have been
to a few conferences this year, outside this country and the whole conversation is about the
potential that Nigeria has. What I would like to see is for us to begin to achieve some of these
In the slide we looked ta before, it says that the media industry is worth $650million. I tell you
that if you give me $20million, you can own my radio station. The key thing here is that we
have this potential. The media’s role in all of these is that we can tell our story, and we should
be telling this story from our own African/Nigerian stand point. I was recently in Atlanta with
some people and they told me about this movie that’s being done with Mickey Rouke and Kim
Bassinger called ‘Black November’ done by Jeta Amata. They say he’s Nigerian? I said yes.
I asked my people if they knew about this movie and they said no. We are taking what we
have here and taking it out there to talk about it and we in the media here are just sitting down
and not knowing. We hear about it on CNN. We need to tell our own stories. My point is that,
we need to tell our story. We need to be a lot more involved in what is happening back here.
These to me are a few of the things that I feel we need to talk about if we are trying to build
this industry. We need to cooperate amongst the stakeholders in the industry. We need to
As big as Twitter is, they are getting contents from Viacom and NBC. The only people who
have ever collected contents from me are MTV. If it was a Nigerian company, they will go and
say; ‘well, we are big, we could just set up our own content generation company’. We need
to align with one another. For example, this camera was made by Sony. Canon has shares in
Sony and so does Hitachi. Everybody’s interested in everybody’s progress and well-being in
the industry, but I don’t see that happening here at all.
I think we should try and globalize local content. Nollywood and the music industry already
provide over 50% of the content on a lot of international channels-DSTV, MTV Base and the
rest of them. We need to do a lot more to globalize the local content instead of us trying to
go and do a song with all due respect, with a Rick Ross. A Rick Ross’ label is not going to
push that song in America. We need to keep on helping and encouraging raw talents. Look
at those days when we had Daddy Showkey and Baba Fryo. They represented the fact that a
young act with nothing can struggle and make it to the spotlight. If you look at the ones who
are the top 10 big stars now, all of them could be bank MDs if they were not musicians. All of
them are graduates and ‘Omo baba lowos’. We need to make sure we don’t over raise the
bar and still get the raw talents. When was the last time there was an ‘Apala’ song that was a
Nollywood has done excellently well and they deserve a round of applause. We need to
minimize government’s involvement like the N3billion that is destroying the industry. This
industry can fend for itself. Nollywood is already the second biggest employer of labour, by
the time you do the right things, they will come to you. Let government focus on providing
electricity, let them focus on governance. Let us not keep asking them for handouts. The
industry can survive by itself from internally generated money.
Sometime ago, I sat down with a few bank execs at a seminar and they said they were going
to start a media and entertainment section in their respective banks. But the key thing is that
there is no data. If an Iyanya tells me that he sold N100million worth of records, I cannot take
financial decisions based on the fact that I like his looks. Don Jazzy doesn’t even know how
many songs he has sold, how many albums he has sold. May be now the new media can
track but we need to get this in a way they can be interpreted and used to make financial
Finally, we need to embrace change and technology. The man who makes the most money in
the music industry isn’t Lady Gaga. It is Dr. Dre and he hasn’t made a record in 10 years. All
of us wear Dr Dre’s headphones, that’s how he makes his money.
We need to explore different models of doing things. Whether we like it or not, the whole
world is digital. We need to move away from our traditional business models and apply a new
thinking to create new revenue streams.
We need to change the entire supply chain; from production to archives to distribution.
– Chris Ubosi, CEO Megaletrics (Owners of BEAT FM 99.9, Naija FM and Classic FM)
This speech was delivered at the inaugural edition of the Nigerian Entertainment
Conference held on Friday, April 26, 2013 at the Grand Ball Room of the Eko Hotel and
Suites, Lagos Nigeria.