Sunday, 05 July 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered amendments that would allow him to remain in power until 2036 to be put into the Russian Constitution after voters approved the changes during a week-long plebiscite.

According to a copy of the decree released by the Russian government on Friday, the amendments will come into force on Saturday.

"The amendments come into force. They come into force, without overstating it, at the people's will," Putin said after he signed a decree to have the constitution revised.

"We made this important decisions together, as a country," the Russian president said during a video-conference with legislators who worked on drafting the amendments.

The changes allow Putin to run for two more six-year terms after his current one expires in 2024, but also outlaw same-sex marriages, mention the "belief in God as a core value" and emphasise the primacy of Russian law over international norms.

Putin proposed amending the constitution in January and insisted on putting the language on his eligibility for office and the other topics up to a nationwide vote that was not legally required after the changes were approved by Russia's parliament and rubber-stamped by the country's Constitutional Court.

Irregularities reported

The citizens' vote was initially scheduled for April 22 but postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The balloting concluded on Wednesday amid widespread reports of pressure on voters and other irregularities.

Kremlin critics denounced the results of the plebiscite - with 78 percent "yes" votes and a nearly 68 percent turnout - as falsified and undermining the legitimacy of the amendments.

Central Election Commission Chairwoman Ella Pamfilova rejected the accusations on Friday, saying the results of the vote are "authentic" and their legitimacy is "indisputable".

"The vote was carried out with the utmost transparency," she said.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, said on Friday legislators would start working on bills implementing the amendments immediately, without taking their traditional summer break.

 

Source: Aljazeera

Published in World

The Nigerian Government has revealed plans to end the monopoly enjoyed by cable television service providers, especially Digital Satellite Television, owned by MultiChoice, a South Africa-based company.

The plan is said to include ending exclusive rights to sporting events.

Only DStv currently broadcasts major football competitions in Nigeria, especially the English Premier League.

The government said it had amended Nigeria’s broadcasting code to prevent DStv and others from monopolising their channels and contents.

The House has been probing DStv for allegedly cheating its Nigerian subscribers by restricting them to prepaid plans and increasing its subscription rates on June 1, 2020, despite the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on the people.

At the continuation of the investigative hearings organised by an ad hoc committee of the House on the matter in Abuja on Tuesday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had dismissed claims by DStv that pay-per-view was not proper for the Nigerian market.

Mohammed noted that StarTimes, the cable arm of the Nigerian Television Authority, was already operating for some years.

In an audio recording obtained by our correspondent, Mohammed could be heard responding to questions from the lawmakers.

The minister said, “On the issue of increase in price for subscribers, with the onset of COVID-19, one of the first things we did in the ministry with the NBC (National Broadcasting Commission) was to provide succour to broadcasters.

“We suspended payment for the initial two months to all broadcasters so that they would be able to absorb the impact of COVID-19. Therefore, it will be unfair for those for whom we have suspended payment to also at the same time increase their own fees. And I’m sure that the DG of NBC will take up this matter.”

On the issue of monopoly, Mohammed stated that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in 2019 set up a board of enquiry to look into the activities of broadcasting stations, to ascertain the potency of the broadcasting code and broadcasting act to curtail and regulate the industry against excesses.

He added, “We took that opportunity also to make right recommendations to Mr President, including the breaking of the monopoly of the various giant operators. It is to the credit of Mr President that he did approve those recommendations.”

Mohammed noted that some recommendations would require that the National Assembly amend the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Act.

The minister said, “You will notice, in recent weeks, a lot of attacks on the ministry as a result of these amendments. These amendments have actually struck at the heart of monopoly. These amendments are, for once, giving back to Nigerians their own industry.”

Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Mr Unyime Idem, asked Mohammed and the acting Director General of the NBC, Armstrong Idachaba, to order DStv to suspend its recent rates’ increment.

Mohammed immediately ordered the Idachaba to issue the notice.

Idem had stated that the minister and all stakeholders present should ensure and commence full implementation of its directives.

The House committee’s order included “a marching order to the service providers, particularly Multichoice’s DStv, to reverse the recent June 1, 2020 price hike and revert to the old price as this is not the best of times to increase the prices of services, no matter the reasons for such increase, taking into consideration the ravaging effect of COVID-19 on the economy of Nigerians.”

It added, “Come up with a robust strategy to break the monopoly and open up the industry for larger participation. PAYG regime for the digital TV broadcasting in Nigeria, with particular reference to DStv, GOtv, StarTimes and Kwese TV.

“Deregulation of content right by DTH (direct-to home), DTT (digital terrestrial television) and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) operators. Encouraging local content participation through content sharing.”

 

Source: PUNCH NIGERIA.

Published in Telecoms
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