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N5bn Debt: Pay up or Lose Operating Licence, NBC Warns Broadcast Stations

N5bn debt: Pay up or lose operating licence, NBC warns broadcast stations

The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has issued a three-week ultimatum to all broadcasting stations in the country to pay all their outstanding licence fees or face sanctions.

Director-General, NBC, Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, issued the warning at the broadcast stakeholders’ meeting, in Abuja, Wednesday.

He said it was regrettable that many broadcast stations operating in the country had refused to pay license fees amounting to N5 billion and threatened to invoke all relevant laws against erring stations to recover the debt.

“There are very worrisome issues in our operations. The first is the situation where many stations have refused to pay their licence fees; even the statutory act of informing the NBC six months before the expiration of licence and signifying intention to continue as a licensee is ignored.

“Our licensees carry on as if they have their licenses for keeps and the NBC cannot withdraw licences. It is important to remind us all that all licences are provisional, no matter how long you have held them. And for emphasis, I want to let you know that stations are owing over N5 billion as licence fees.

“I will like to use this medium to inform you that the NBC would be invoking the relevant laws against erring stations. Consequently, all stations without exception are expected to complete all payments owed the commission by March 15, 2017,” he said

Defaulting transmitters

Kawu said the commission was equally worried over illegal and rampant use of transmission power by stations all over Nigeria.

According to him, some stations procure transmitters without respecting the stipulated and recommended transmitter power in city-based Fm stations.

“The consequence of this is that we have frequency clashes occurring all over Nigeria. As at yesterday, we have compiled a total of 69 stations around Nigeria that have installed transmitters beyond the transmitter power stipulated in their licences, and that is not even exhaustive.

“Henceforth, no broadcaster would be allowed to import a transmitter beyond the power allotted in the licences issued. Second, stations must ensure that their broadcasts are limited to assigned areas only; and where these areas require less than 2KW power, they must tune their transmitters below 2KW.

“All stations that have installed more than allotted TX power are hereby put on notice, that they have six months to procure and install 2KW transmitters. After the expiration of this grace period, we will ensure the de-commissioning of the transmitters installed beyond the allotted TX power.”

Hate speech

On hate speech, he said the commission had taken steps to expose tendencies that could lead to hate speech in the Nigerian media in general, noting that there were too many stray dogs around the house promoting hate speech.

He further warned all media practitioners in the country to promote decency and unity of the country.

He said: “I will like to draw your attention to the dangerous trend of hate speech that has become a major problem in our country today. Broadcasters are beginning to abdicate our gatekeeping role; there are too many stray dogs around the house now; our stations must not be arenas for inciting and hate speech that can endanger the good order of our country.”

“Broadcasting must promote pluralism and decency, as well as help to deepen the content of Nigeria’s democracy. We must not divide Nigeria. If we have forgotten, radio became a medium that helped to trigger the tragic genocide in Rwanda.

“We must use broadcasting here as a platform of national development. At the NBC, we are collaborating with the Savannah Center for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, to expose tendencies towards hate speech in the Nigerian media in general, and in the broadcasting industry in particular.’’

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