Following the intervention of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has suspended the revocation of the operating licenses of 52 broadcast stations owing various sums in licensing fees.
The NBC has now given the affected stations up to 6PM on Tuesday, August 23, to pay up their debts.
In revoking the licenses on Friday, the commission had ordered the stations off air beginning this Saturday, citing Section 10(a) of the 3rd Schedule of the National Broadcasting Commission Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The provision says, “10. A licence may be revoked by the Commission in the following cases, that is (a) where the prescribed fee has not been paid on the due date…”
After the announcement, IPI Nigeria engaged the Ministry of Information and Culture, the NBC and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) to explore amicable resolution of the dispute.
“We are glad to report that the Director General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Shehu Ilela, has graciously agreed to grant an extension on compassionate ground,” IPI Nigeria President, Musikilu Mojeed, said on Saturday.
“Even though this is a temporary relief, we are hopeful that all parties will engage in the next few days with a view to arriving at a lasting resolution of the matter. We thank the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Mallam Illela for listening to us and allowing a window for dialogue.
“During our engagement with the Commission, the NBC explained that the commission had in the past granted several concessions to broadcast organisations, including writing off substantial parts of their debts and engaging them consistently to fulfill their financial obligations to the regulator.
“We implore the affected broadcasting organisations to take advantage of this window of opportunity by reaching out to the NBC.
“Nobody benefits when broadcasting stations are shut down. Members of the public have come to rely on these stations to know what their governments are doing to keep them safe in this challenging security environment. Other governments’ policies are also disseminated to the public through these channels.
“In view of the nation’s economic downturn, we further appeal to the affected broadcast stations and the NBC to agree a workable payment arrangement of the outstanding dues.”