Why do Nigerians have the power to dictate what African watches?

Why do Nigerians have the power to dictate what African watches?

Nigeria often self-describes as the “giant of Africa.” Now, it seems the giant of Africa has the power to pull off shows disrupting the viewing pleasures of others throughout the continent. “I Am Cait,” the show the follows the life of Caitlyn Jenner after her gender transition will not be showing anymore on Multichoice’s E! Entertainment channel. South African Multichoice is the premiere satellite broadcaster in Nigeria and in many sub-Saharan African countries. This is due to pressure coming from Nigerian authorities to have the show removed from air.

 

A similar event happened last year when “concerned mothers” took to social media to have “I Am Jazz,” a reality show about transgender teen Jazz Jennings and her family, pulled from broadcast.  Mulitchoice relented pulling the show off while reminding parents that their decoders are encrypted with the parental control feature. Again this year, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) essentially forced Multichoice to stop showing “I Am Cait” on DStv Nigeria due to the complaints. Like with the uproar against “I Am Jazz,” parents complained that the show was not suitable for children. Individual choice is triumphed here by collective panic.

 

Nigeria is one among the many African countries that adopt harsh laws against LGBT citizens. Its Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act criminalizes gay marriage carrying penalties of up to 14 years. The law goes further to criminalize organizations and individuals who support the LGBTI community in any way. This environment fosters homophobia and transphobia, and from comments on social media and popular blogs, it is clear that a good number of Nigerians find shows like “I Am Cait” to be morally wrong and dangerous. Nigeria’s huge population and consumer power makes it an important market for Multichoice.

 

 

Now that “I Am Cait” has stopped showing on E! Entertainment, the show has also ground to a halt in other African countries as there is only one channel that caters to the whole continent. This decision by Multichoice sparked debate and loosely veiled resentment from other African countries towards Nigeria. Those Africans interested in watching “I Am Cait” or “I Am Jazz” will now have to rely on the Internet or other satellite broadcasting providers.

 

Is there a good reason to pulling off shows like “I Am Cait” when there is a parental control feature? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta

Rafeeat Aliyu

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