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NBC: Of licence revocation and consequences

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The Breaking News mentioned only four major broadcast stations. But when the news fully unfolded, it dawned on the public that the matter was more serious than initially thought. In one fell swoop, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), revoked (mark the work, please) the licences of 52 broadcast stations!

Top on the list were two stations from Daar Communications – African Independent Television (better known as AIT) and Ray Power FM. While the TV station is one of the earliest private-owned in Nigeria, the radio station, which came on air in 1994, broke the ground as the first 24-hour broadcast service station in Nigeria.

The major stations affected by the NBC red card included Silverbird TV, Rhythm FM, Classic FM and Beat FM.

Since we are now in the political season with the campaign for next year’s elections already on but kicks off formally on 28 September, it was quite expected that political undertone would be read into NBC’s action. For instance, Daar Communications is owned by Dr Raymond Dokpesi, who has been playing a major role in the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party. To silence his stations, no matter the reason, is therefore considered a major loss for the opposition.

Many had wondered why “revocation”? Why throw away the baby with the bath water? Why not suspend their licences and allow the stations to do whatever was required to be in good standing?

One factor that was hardly considered in the debate so far is whether the NBC had the power to act in the manner it has done on these 52 stations.

NBC, the broadcast regulator, came into being on 24 August 1992 through Decree 38 of 1992, which was later amended as an Act of the National Assembly. By Act 55 of 1999, the National Broadcasting Commission Laws of the Federation 2004, CAP N11, gave the commission several responsibilities, including regulating and controlling the broadcasting industry in Nigeria.

Section 12 of the enabling law (NBC Act 55 of 1999) provides for terms and conditions for a licence. “The grant of licence shall be subject to the terms and conditions set out in the Third Schedule of this Act”.

Now, let’s journey to the Third Schedule of the Act in reference. It is provided under “Terms of a Licence” that

  1. A licence shall be valid for a period of five years in the first instance.
  2. An application for the renewal of a licence shall be made to the Commission within a period of six months before the expiration of the licence.
  3. In considering an application for the renewal of a licence, the Commission shall review the
    past conduct of the licensee.

The NBC says the stations affected had been indebted to it since 2015 – seven years ago. And the law provides that a licence is valid for “a period of five years in the first instance”. In other words, the validity of a licence is not for a lifetime, but subject to renewal every five years.

Perhaps the NBC would have used this time to warn the stations to comply within a specific time, rather that come down hard with the hammer. Perhaps the commission had done that outside the purview of the public. Perhaps not. Perhaps. Perhaps.

Whatever it is, the government or any of its institution can never come out clean in matters like this, particularly considering the timing of the action. Already, there are questions about whether Federal Government-owned stations and those amenable to the ruling party are equally not guilty of the NBC Act on licence dues. If they are, why aren’t they given the knock as well?

This definitely will not be the last on this matter. This definitely will not be the last word.

The full list of affected broadcasters and stations:

  1. Silverbird TV
  2. Rhythm FM Abuja
  3. Rhythm FM Lagos
  4. Rhythm FM Yenagoa
  5. Rhythm FM Port Harcourt
  6. Rhythm FM Jos
  7. Rhythm FM Benin
  8. AIT/Raypower FM
  9. Greetings FM
  10. Tao FM
  11. Zuma FM
  12. Crowther FM
  13. We FM
  14. Linksman International Limited
  15. Bomay Broadcasting Services Limited
  16. MITV (Murhi International Group Limited)
  17. Classic FM Port Harcourt
  18. Classic FM Lagos
  19. Classic TV
  20. Beat FM
  21. Cooper Communications Limited
  22. Splash FM
  23. Rock City FM
  24. Family FM
  25. Space FM
  26. Radio Jeremi
  27. Breeze FM
  28. Vibes FM
  29. Family Love FM
  30. Wave FM
  31. Kogi State Broadcasting Corporation
  32. Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation
  33. Niger State Broadcasting Corporation
  34. Gombe State Broadcasting Corporation
  35. Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation
  36. Lagos DSB
  37. Osun State Broadcasting Corporation
  38. Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation
  39. Ondo State Broadcasting Corporation
  40. Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation
  41. Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation
  42. Cross River State Broadcasting Corporation
  43. Imo State Broadcasting Corporation
  44. Anambra State Broadcasting Corporation
  45. Borno State Broadcasting Corporation
  46. Yobe State Broadcasting Corporation
  47. Sokoto State Broadcasting Corporation
  48. Zamfara State Broadcasting Corporation
  49. Kebbi State Broadcasting Corporation
  50. Jigawa State Broadcasting Corporation
  51. Kaduna State Broadcasting Corporation
  52. Katsina State Broadcasting Corporation

Akintunde, a public relations consultant and media professional, is the publisher of Breezy News

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4 Comments

  1. Everest

    19 August 2022 at 5:39 pm

    I see no political undertone in NBC’s action. What we should ask the broadcast stations affected is how many reminders they’d received to settle their indebtedness.
    Note that broadcast stations of states run by the APC are also involved, including Lagos Broadcasting Corporation. Another question we should unravel is why are these companies owing over these years? Is it economical, are they not generating enough revenue to break even. If so, why is the NBC keep registering new outfits?
    Finally, don’t forget the NBC is among the FG revenue generating agencies. And if they’ve got a target they’re not meeting, a push from FIRS would make them take drastic action, especially as Nigeria is now living on borrowed income. But this action, for me, isn’t political but economic survival!

    Reply

  2. Sanmi Falobi

    19 August 2022 at 7:07 pm

    This analysis is splendid and well balanced, providing deeper perspectives on the import and consequences.
    …. Well done sir

    Reply

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