The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) temporarily reversed its decision to shut down certain broadcast stations for failing to renew their licenses on Friday.
The Herald recalls that the commission issued a shutdown notice to the licenses of Silverbird TV, AIT, Raypower FM, and Rhythm FM, among others, a week ago due to a ₦2.66 billion debt.
Following the ultimatum, the broadcast body received positive responses from the debtor Licensees, which included major broadcast industry players.
This was confirmed in a communique signed by the Director General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, who confirmed the decision to stop revoking the licenses of defaulting media organizations.
“Sequel to a follow-up meeting held with Executives of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), and other critical Stakeholders in the industry, the Commission has decided to temporarily suspend the shutdown of the indebted Broadcast stations all over the Country,” Ilelah said.
“We express our profound appreciation to the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, the affected licensees and Broadcast Stakeholders for their responses and interventions.
“We, specifically, thank DAAR Communications Ltd and Silverbird TV/Rhythm FM for their responses.”
The communique also revealed that NBC was aware of the difficulties the shutdown must have caused operators and other stakeholders, but it insisted that it “will always operate within the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap. N11, Laws of the Federation, 2004.”
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had condemned NBC’s sanction and revocation of 52 broadcast station.
NUJ while condemning NBC’s sanction via a statement on Friday said that the decision is hasty and ill-timed.
The union’s national president, Chris Isiguzo via the statement said that “The decision today by the industry regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission – NBC, to revoke the licenses of 52 broadcast stations nationwide over indebtedness to the Commission was ill-advised.
“The affected stations, according to NBC are said to owe arrears of licence fees amounting to ₦2.6 billion since 2015.
“Although the Director General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah claimed that this development had no political motives, we insist that the action was ill-timed and reckless.
“It should be noted that this wholesale revocation of licences at this critical time of insecurity in the Country appears to be a decision taken without careful prior deliberation, consultation, or counsel.”
The NUJ believes in the face of economic hardship, the ”large scale clampdown of broadcast stations in disregard to security issues and the attendant consequence. We cannot afford the unpleasant outcome of such a media blackout at this time.
“We call on NBC to exercise more restraint on this issue in consideration of national security and allow for more dialogue and consultation to find a better way of dealing with the situation.”