DSTV is highest exploiters of Nigerian talent –Emeka Ike
Top actor, Emeka Ike, spoke with REGINALD EBERE and explains why actors are agitating for compensation from DSTV, others.
NOLLYWOOD has become a big and lucrative industry. Is it not true?
Nollywood has grown, we all agree but are we making all that we are supposed to be making? The answer is an emphatic no. For an Industry that is considered the third largest in the world and one that is generating figures in the region of over ten billion annually, it is sad that most of the practitioners still live below the poverty line. It is only a few of us at the top that are being rewarded well below what we are worth. This is an industry where if you make only one movie a year you can go home and rest without bothering where the next meal will come from. The major reason behind that statement is that Nigeria has the population to support the work that we do and we have not only affected Nigeria but the whole world as a whole. The second reason is that Movie making is a highly intellectual, physically demanding and an artistic expression which really is not quantifiable. If I can ask that question, what kind of price tag can you put on an artistic work?
Why is it that the artistes have singled out DSTV?
It is simply because they are the highest exploiters of Nigerian talent. We have heard talk that American movies are bought with something in the region of 40,000 Dollars for Viewing Rights only by DSTV. Compare that with the meager sum of N80, 000 to N120, 000 for every single right that Nigerian producers are selling our films to DSTV. Now they say that they are buying the movies at such ridiculous rates because of the 'hunger factor' which simply translates to the feeling that Nigerians are poor hungry people who you can exploit at will because they need to eat. I personally feel insulted by such feelings and statements. I feel that we have done marvelously well as an Industry that nobody gave a chance of survival and we need to be seen as having done well. Take a situation where I have to make six movies to earn what Will Smith will earn in one movie. What is the difference between what he does and what I do? At the end, after we have finished all that hard work, somebody gathers all those movies and says he is doing EMEKA IKE'S SEASON on DSTV. Now, no dime is paid into my pocket for celebrating me. How then are you helping me and my industry?
Are there any laws supporting what you are saying?
It is not about any laws right now. These are moral issues more than they are legal issues. But if it is about laws, yes, there are laws. You and I have talked about the Berne convention of which both Nigeria and South Africa are signatories before. It says that the copyright protection for Cinematographic works shall expire fifty years after the work has been made available to the public with the consent of the author. Now our works are being seen on DSTV sometimes less than two weeks after release. What you are telling our fans is that they should wait just a little while after the release of the movies to watch them on DSTV instead of going to buy. You are damaging our income base and devaluing our work.
But is that not the key to this whole mess, the word “Author” of the work. Is the actor the author of the work?
Everybody who took part in a production has inalienable rights to receive a percentage of rights accruable to that production; the production hand, the actor, nobody talks about the writer who puts in everything you finally see on the screen, the director who has made the film, the environment of shoot. It is not just about the producer of the film. We need to start addressing these issues.
If you are asking for compensation from DSTV, what kind of figures would you be looking at?
Twelve (12) billion Naira
That is a crazy sum, how did you arrive at that?
The premium bouquet on DSTV is 9,000 Naira a month. If you multiply that by the estimated two (2) million viewers in Nigeria and by twelve months over the number of years that AFMAG has remained the most popular station on DSTV, then, you would understand what I am talking about. And it is so sad that if DSTV was a wholly Nigerian-owned company, what is happening would not happen. I remember once when I went to South Africa and on the street, I brought out a camcorder to record something. A security officer tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that I cannot record anything without going through due process.