Posted by By Okoh Aihe, Communications Editor on
Disappointed by the failure of some broadcast operators to take advantage of what seems a masterstroke solution to debt owed it, the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, yesterday in Abuja, announced a closure of the operations of 10 broadcasters effective midnight of Friday, January 20, 2006.
ABUJA ó Disappointed by the failure of some broadcast operators to take advantage of what seems a masterstroke solution to debt owed it, the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, yesterday in Abuja, announced a closure of the operations of 10 broadcasters effective midnight of Friday, January 20, 2006.
While announcing the decision, a pained Dr. Silas Babajiya Yisa, Director General of the Commission, said that after a mutually agreed decision in which the affected broadcasters were to pay half the amount owed, most of them still refused to pay their debt, some as old as the day the station commenced operations.
The debt totaled N750m.
Affected are DBN TV, Minaj TV, Galaxy Television, Channels Television (Abuja) and Universal Broadcasting Service (Super Screen). Others are Murhi International Ltd (Star FM Radio), Minaj Radio, MG Communications, Radio Jeremi and Silverbird Radio (Abuja and Port Harcourt).
While explaining that the decision has become an inevitable step to check the attitude of the broadcasters, Dr. Yisa explained that on two occasions last year, May 19 and August 16, 2005, both the Commission and the operators met to discuss ways out of the payment logjam. This brought the Commission to forgive half the debt which would make it lose quite some money.
According to Yisa: "The meeting unanimously resolved to grant debtor stations a concession to pay up outstanding licence fees at 50% reduction by December 31, 2005. It was accepted by all at the meeting that any debtor station which failed to clear its backlog of debts despite this concession would be deemed to have defaulted and would have its licence withdrawn in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 9 of the third schedule of the National Broadcasting Commission Act no. 38 of 1992 as amended. Private operators acknowledged the Commissionís gesture as a testimony of its desire to uplift and develop the broadcast industry in Nigeria as well as ensure compliance with the law." Midway into the first month of the New Year, the debtor stations are yet to respond in payment, thus pushing the Commission into taking a painful decision, according to Yisa.
In his words: "It is now the painful duty of the Commission to give notice that in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 8 and 9 of the third schedule of the NBC Act no. 38 of 1992 as amended, and in fulfillment of all the relevant guidelines, the licences of the above-mentioned stations have been suspended with effect from midnight, Friday, 20 January 2006. Consequently, the Commission directs that the stations in question stop transmission effective midnight 20, January 2006."
He informed that the Commission has already conveyed this order to the affected stations, including the conditions under which they may be considered for resuming transmission. Paramount among such conditions is the full redemption of all their outstanding debts within three months without any rebate, which they forfeited by failing to meet the agreed December 31, 2005 deadline.
"The spectrum or frequency, the space allocated to broadcasters for transmission is an intangible public resource held in trust for the Nigerian public by the National Broadcasting Commission."