Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has condemned the revocation and withdrawal of the broadcast licenses of 52 broadcast stations across Nigeria by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
In a statement on Friday issued by the Head of its Legal Department, Obioma Okonkwo, the organization viewed the action as “ill-advised, insensitive and antithetical to the interests of the Nigerian public.”
By the revocation of the broadcast licenses of so many stations for alleged non-payment of their licence fees, NBC, according to MRA, “was prioritizing its desire to make money off the broadcasters over the interest of citizens”.
He said the ultimate effect of the action is to deprive millions of Nigerians access to information as well as their rights and ability to freely express themselves through these stations.
Parts of the statement, a copy of which was made available to DAILY POST in Jalingo, Taraba State read, “We are shocked by this naked display by the NBC of a lack of appreciation of its principal role which is to contribute to the emergence of a knowledge society.
”Rather, it has chosen to create an environment in which millions of Nigerians will wallow in ignorance, deprived of access to crucial information that they need to make critical decisions in their lives or to enhance their livelihoods.”
The organization argued that the action of NBC has only worsened the prevailing lopsidedness in the broadcasting landscape in Nigeria which was already ”dominated by government-owned broadcasting stations but is now under the monopolistic control of Federal Government-owned stations, which will be almost unchallenged, with the result that citizens will now be fed unmitigated propaganda by these remaining stations.”
MRA accused the NBC of being “insensitive to the harsh economic environment under which the broadcast stations have operated over the last two and a half years as the national economy has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by the government in response to the pandemic.”
They noted that the broadcasting stations are also negatively impacted by the inability of the government to create a conducive environment for them to operate, “such as providing appropriate infrastructure like electricity, adding that with the stations having to find alternative sources of power supply even as the price of diesel continues to skyrocket daily, they are simply struggling to survive.”
“The fact that so many broadcasting stations have been unable to pay the license fees” as made known in the statement “raises serious questions about the fairness and appropriateness of the fees being imposed on broadcasters by the NBC in such a challenging economic environment.”
MRA, as observed in the statement called on the NBC to reverse its decision in the public interest to avoid “creating a society of predominantly ignorant citizens, advising that the need to ensure that Nigerians are adequately informed through the media should supersede any other consideration by the NBC.”
They also called on the commission to liaise with the broadcasting stations to identify the challenges facing the industry and come up with realistic solutions to the identified challenges.
—Charles Akpeji is a Journalist with MOC. He is a mass Communication graduate of Hassan Usman Polytechnic, Katsina state. He is a creative, driven, dedicated and dependable Journalists with over eighteen years’ experience in journalism profession. He has excellent track record as a correspondent working with one of the most reputable media organization with a circulation all over Nigeria. He is skilled in writing, investigating, and writing pitches among others. Charles worked as a staff writer with the defunct Smash Magazine and as a state correspondent with the defunct NewAge newspaper, etc