The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has postponed the cancellation of the operational licences of 52 broadcast stations that owe varying amounts in licencing fees.
The suspension came after the involvement of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute.
Consequently, the NBC has given the impacted stations until Tuesday, August 23, at 6pm to settle their bills.
The National Broadcasting Commission Act, CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; Section 10(a) was cited by the commission when it revoked the licences on Friday; ordering the stations to go off the air starting on Saturday.
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 an 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, August 20.
“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; 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 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 NBC to agree with a workable payment arrangement of the outstanding dues.”