The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Incorporated, owners of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp alongside its Nigerian public relations agency, AT3 Resources at the Federal High court based in Abuja, Nigeria.
“ARCON is seeking a declaration that the continued publication and exposure of various advertisements directed at the Nigerian market through Facebook and Instagram platforms by Meta Platforms Incorporated without ensuring same is vetted and approved before exposure is illegal, unlawful and a violation of the extant advertising Law in Nigeria,” said the regulatory body in a statement.
In a bid to sanction Meta for “the violation of the advertising laws and for loss of revenue”, the advertising body is demanding for $72.3 billion ( ≅ N30 billion). This sanction is also due to Meta Incorporated’s continued exposure of unapproved adverts on its platforms.
The apex advertising regulatory body emphasized that it would not permit unethical and irresponsible advertising on Nigeria’s advertising space. It further stated “that it is not regulating the online media space but rather advertising and marketing communications on the online platforms in line with its establishment Act.”
Recently, ARCON changed its name from Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) of which the new ARCON Act 2022 only repealed the existing APCON Act No. 55 of 1988 – now merged with amendments and cited as Advertising Practitioners (Registration, etc.) Act, Cap. A7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 – to enable the effective regulation and control of advertisement in the country.
Speaking at the media event in August, a practitioner, Mr Tokunbo Barnes posits that: “Though there had been some attempts at capturing online ads in the past, I believe those attempts were feeble. Unfortunately, besides throwing decency and caution into the wind, most times, practitioners on this space have continued to make substantial amount of money, without paying the necessary dues to the relevant authorities. But I believe the new laws would do justice to those grey areas”. This statement was directed towards the surge of advertisements on the new media also known as social media.
Further, in a move that has gained controversies, ARCON released a press statement on 22 August to ban foreign models and voice-over artists in order to promote local contents. This was planned to take effect from October 1.
“ARCON, being the apex advertising, advertisement and marketing communications’ regulatory agency of the Federal Government, has in accordance with its statutory mandates, responsibilities and powers as conveyed by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act No. 23 of 2022 bans the use of foreign models and voice-over artists on any advertisement targeted of exposed on the Nigerian advertising space with effect from Ist October 2022,” ARCON Director General, Olalekan Fadolapo said.