The penchant of Nigerians for lavish publicity in foreign media has met a stonewall in CNN which has been rejecting political advertisement. With the 2015 elections drawing close, several politicians are shocked that the American international cable channel, which is one of the favourites in Nigeria, has been turning down commercials with overt political messages.
CNN adverts are among the most expensive in the world ─ the network charges up to N5m for a 30-second spot at prime time ─ but many Nigerian companies and politicians typically value the prestige above the economic cost. This has also created a bandwagon effect, with many falling over one another to get on the international media. It is estimated that Nigerian companies and various state governments spend billions of naira every year advertising in foreign media, notably The Economist, Financial Times of London, CNN International and SuperSport. “We approached CNN agents in Nigeria to place some adverts for our principal. We sent the creatives to them as requested and they returned them, saying they do not run commercials that are intended to campaign for votes. We could not believe it,” a consultant to a presidential aspirant told TheCable. Another, who is working for a state governor seeking re-election, said he had a similar experience. But an official of CNN told TheCable that it was a general rule not to accept certain advertisements and there was no discrimination against Nigerian politicians. Ashley Hogan-Gancarz, the account manager of CNN International, informed TheCable: “CNN International never accepted political or religious advertising. This is due to Ofcom regulations. “If you want to promote investment opportunities, etc. that would be fine but nothing to do with politics or the 2015 election.” Ofcom is the regulator of the broadcast industry in the UK, from where CNN International oversees its African operations. CNN’s rejection of 2015-related adverts is expected to benefit local media in Nigeria. Part of the advertising budget is now expected to be spent locally.