ARCON faces backlash over N3m advert vetting fee
By Anietie Udoh
The Advertising Regulatory Council’s (ARCON) recent decision to impose a hefty N3 million vetting fee for advertisements produced outside Nigeria has ignited a firestorm of criticism from the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN). In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, ADVAN President, Osamede Uwubanmwen, expressed deep concern over the impact of this decision on the advertising industry.
Uwubanmwen, during the interview, pointed out the troubling direction ARCON is taking due to the Federal Government’s exclusion of the council from the national budgetary allocation. He emphasized that this exclusion is pushing ARCON toward an aggressive taxing regime, stifling creativity and innovation in the advertising sector.
“They came up with what they call special vetting fees. If you shoot an advert abroad, they’ll charge you N3m to vet it,” lamented Uwubanmwen, highlighting the financial burden this places on advertisers. He raised a warning about potential future absurdities, stating, “If we are not careful, we will be told to vet obituaries.”
The ADVAN president expressed frustration at ARCON’s lack of response to a legal challenge against certain provisions in the new ARCON law. “They have not answered the suit we filed against them until today. So, they can continue doing what they are doing,” he remarked.
The Impact of the new law extends beyond financial constraints, adversely affecting the Nigerian entertainment industry. ADVAN had previously warned ARCON against banning the use of foreign models in local adverts, a plea that fell on deaf ears. “As I speak to you now, I have heard that they have moved our Nollywood to limited time in some neighboring countries,” Uwubanmwen revealed, pointing to the diminishing exposure of Nigerian content abroad.
Uwubanmwen alleged that despite ADVAN’s repeated requests, ARCON has not provided the gazetted copy of the new law, leaving advertisers in the dark about the regulations governing their industry. In an effort to find resolution, ADVAN has engaged in productive discussions with the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Malagi.
“We have had productive discussions with the Minister of Information, and we will be meeting with him this week to outline our key concerns,” Uwubanmwen said, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the challenges faced by advertisers.
The escalating tensions between ADVAN and ARCON stem from the stipulations in the new ARCON law, which replaced the code governing advertising under the defunct Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria. ARCON’s Director-General, Olalekan Fadolapo, defended the new law, stating, “The council would not give free rein to industry players to perpetrate shoddy and unethical practices.”
In recent months, ADVAN has been at loggerheads with its regulator over the stipulations in the new ARCON law, which replaced the code guiding advertising under the defunct Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria.
As the advertising industry navigates these turbulent waters, the push and pull between regulatory bodies and advertisers underscore the need for transparent communication and collaboration to foster a thriving creative landscape.
On its part, the regulator had insisted that the new law was imperative for the sanitisation of certain underhanded practices in the Industry.
In a recent interview, the Director-General of the ARCON, Olalekan Fadolapo, said the council would not give free rein to industry players to perpetrate shoddy and unethical practices.