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NBC Reads Riot Act to Broadcasting Organizations

*Calls on Governments to Support State Broadcasting Stations*

Maxim Uzoatu 

The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Malam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah has said that the stakeholders meeting convened recently at Radisson Blu, Lagos which had Commissioners of Information and Chief Executive Officers from the southwest, southeast and southsouth in attendance was to enable the Commission to once again restate before them some of the provisions of the Act establishing the National Broadcasting Commission and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which some of them have not complied with.

Since most of the broadcasting stations have continued to evade payment of their statutory fees and levies, Malam Ilelah said the Commission is left with no other option than to read them  the riot act as follows:

i. Licensees indebted to the Commission have till September 9, 2023 to liquidate such debts;

ii. After September 9, 2023, debtor licensees shall have their licenses revoked and their frequency reassigned accordingly.

iii. Provisional Licenses not paid for, after two years of issuance, will be considered lapsed in accordance with Section 5 subsection 10 (b) of the Third Schedule to the NBC Act.

iv. Organizations recently granted provisional approvals should fulfil their financial obligations to the Commission or have such approvals withdrawn. Note that provisional approvals have 60 days from the date of the approval for such payments;

v. Warehousing of licenses is prohibited. The Commission notes that some organizations acquire licenses in multiple locations, with frequencies assigned without putting them to use. Henceforth any such fallow Frequency will be withdrawn and reassigned to other users.

vi. Furthermore, Section 14 subsection 2 (a) of the NBC Act requires that a percentage of fees and levies be charged by the Commission on the annual income of licensed broadcasting stations and Section 2.10(a) of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code explicitly States that: ‘The Broadcaster shall remit to the Commission 2.5% of its Annual Income’. This is a fundamental provision of the NBC Act (Laws of the Federation) which many licensees are evading. It is an offense against the State. Please note some Regulators charge up to 5% for this fund. The NBC in collaboration with stakeholders pegged this at 2½%.  Defaulting Licensees are enjoined to submit their audited accounts and pay up the statutory levy on or before the 9th of September, 2023.

He concluded by warning that “any broadcasting station that fails to respond to this entreaty will be treated as an illegal station and an economic saboteur in consonance with the extant Laws of the Federation.”

Reacting to the Director General’s address which the audience perceived as a diktat, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information,  Sir Paul Nwosu firstly disclosed that one of the first things that his “Solution Governor",  Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo CFR , did when he came into office was to ensure that the state owned Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) was up-to-date on its statutory fees to National Broadcasting Commission.

Secondly, he lampooned the Director General for ending what would have been a nice welcome address with a threat, instead of empathizing with and pitching his audience. The Commissioner stressrd that stations' adverting revenue has dropped drastically and most broadcast stations are gasping for breathe.

Chief Declan Emelumba the Imo State Commissioner for Information called on the Commission to take its regulatory responsibilities seriously as the standard of broadcasters in the industry is progressively on the decline.

Dr. Bamgboshe the Executive Secretary Broadcasting Organisation of Niigeria said the "harsh economic situation in our country is adversely affecting the boadcasting business. State Governments should come to the rescue of the State stations while NBC in collaboration with BON should create an enabling environment for the private stations through tax holidays and incentives on importation of broadcast equipment".

Raymond Dokpesi jnr,  Chairman of Daar Communications Ltd said "NBC should review and interrogate its code on payment of 2 .5% whether, of income or of profit made by the stations. They should strive to make their codes as lenient as possible considering the tough business environment."

Amina Mohammed MD/ CEO Aims Media Ltd said "NBC should internalise the stakeholders suggestions , empathize with them and come up with a win- win strategy".

Among others who spoke were Chief Okey Kanu, Abia State Commissioner for Information, Jude Chikadibia, Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information, Sir Chido Obidiegwu, Managing Director, ABS and Isaac Okoroafor. They essentially called for more friendly payment plans and downward review of the fees and levies charged operators so that they’ll be able to meet their obligations to NBC.

 Malam Ilelah used the opportunity to draw the attention of State Governments to the ailing state of most State Broadcasting Stations and called for their support.

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