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
- A licence shall be valid for a period of five years in the first instance.
- 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.
- 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:
- Silverbird TV
- Rhythm FM Abuja
- Rhythm FM Lagos
- Rhythm FM Yenagoa
- Rhythm FM Port Harcourt
- Rhythm FM Jos
- Rhythm FM Benin
- AIT/Raypower FM
- Greetings FM
- Tao FM
- Zuma FM
- Crowther FM
- We FM
- Linksman International Limited
- Bomay Broadcasting Services Limited
- MITV (Murhi International Group Limited)
- Classic FM Port Harcourt
- Classic FM Lagos
- Classic TV
- Beat FM
- Cooper Communications Limited
- Splash FM
- Rock City FM
- Family FM
- Space FM
- Radio Jeremi
- Breeze FM
- Vibes FM
- Family Love FM
- Wave FM
- Kogi State Broadcasting Corporation
- Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation
- Niger State Broadcasting Corporation
- Gombe State Broadcasting Corporation
- Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation
- Lagos DSB
- Osun State Broadcasting Corporation
- Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation
- Ondo State Broadcasting Corporation
- Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation
- Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation
- Cross River State Broadcasting Corporation
- Imo State Broadcasting Corporation
- Anambra State Broadcasting Corporation
- Borno State Broadcasting Corporation
- Yobe State Broadcasting Corporation
- Sokoto State Broadcasting Corporation
- Zamfara State Broadcasting Corporation
- Kebbi State Broadcasting Corporation
- Jigawa State Broadcasting Corporation
- Kaduna State Broadcasting Corporation
- Katsina State Broadcasting Corporation
Akintunde, a public relations consultant and media professional, is the publisher of Breezy News