Broadcast License Revocation: NLC Seeks Fee Review As SERAP Sues FG
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has called on the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC to review downwards the cost of operating licenses for broadcast stations in Nigeria.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, made this call in a statement, issued on Wednesday, titled, “Withdrawal Of The Licenses Of Media Houses – A Slippery Road To Press Emasculation.’
Wabba said that the decision to revoke the licenses of the defaulting stations overlooked economic difficulties that had harmed the stations’ operations. He argued that the stations did not deliberately choose not to renew their licenses.
He said, “In defence of the media, democratic and economic rights of Nigerians, we call on the NBC to rescind this decision to withdraw the operating licenses of the affected 53 media houses.
“In light of our foregoing concerns, we urge that the media operating license be reviewed downwards as information dissemination is a social service.”
The NLC President acknowledged that the NBC had a regulatory duty in the broadcast industry but stressed that the withdrawal of the licences “is a little too drastic, dramatic, draconian, and debilitating not only for the affected media houses but also for their staff and indeed millions of Nigerians who follow programs from the affected media houses”.
He further made a case for broadcast stations across the country, disclosing the struggle to run businesses amidst an ailing economy.
“Many media houses just like most businesses in Nigeria suffer the double jeopardy of escalating business costs and plummeting revenues.
“Largely to blame for this sad state of affairs is government which mismanagement of the economy has ensured that a litre of diesel is now knocking at the borderline of N1000. To compound the situation is the epileptic supply of electricity with the national grid collapsing intermittently for the umpteenth time in recent months.
“In addition to the soaring and scary rising energy costs which hit electronic media houses hardest given that they must always be on air whether it makes economic sense or not, there are salaries to pay. maintenance services, and sundry basic operating costs to keep the media houses running and serving their listening and viewing public.
“Amidst these operational suffocations, how does the NBC expect the media houses to generate the money to renew their operating licenses? Indeed, Nigeria’s media houses should be eulogized for resilience, and tenacity in the face of prevailing economic blizzards,” Wabba pointed out.In a related development, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, have instituted a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, over the arbitrary use of the NBC Act and broadcasting code to threaten, revoke and shut down 53 broadcast stations in the country for failing to renew their licences.