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N3.4b LOC debt: AIT appeals to Presidency

By Onochie Anibeze
It is just two days to the end of 13th edition of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup but the storm is getting thicker for AIT, incidentally for the services the television company under Daar Communications provided for Nigeria.

The Local Organizing Committee, LOC, for the event is yet to pay for services AIT provided as the Host Broadcast Station for which NTA battled it till the last minute.

“The times are getting rougher for us and this is unfortunate because we never wanted to make it a media matter,” Acting Managing Director of Daar Communications, Tony Akiotu, told media men in Abuja Wednesday night.

“Our OB vans produced the signals from Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi and Abuja and we set up the IBCC. For the championship, we had gone to four Production Trucks capable of using 32 cameras, four satellite uplinks, dishes and a host of other things that pushed our exposure to N12.3 billion. But in a meeting directed by the Presidency for which  NTA, the LOC, the National Sports Commission and Daar Communications were all represented, it was agreed that N3.4 billion ( N3, 405,996,205)  be paid to us. The meeting was a Presidential Committee for Harmonization and Negotiation to, among other things, determine how much to pay us. This meeting was on October 17. As we speak no kobo has been paid to us. The banks that gave us loan now send their staff to resume work in our offices.

It is bad, very bad for us. Must we suffer this for a great service to our country? In that meeting, NTA said that they were not ready to produce the matches and we said that we were 95 per cent ready. It was then agreed that we be paid for the services. I wonder how this competition would have been held if we didn’t have the facilities to work for our country. But our company appears in trouble for serving the country. The LOC is indebted to us. FIFA guidelines for the competition made it clear that the LOC provides the facilities that we did on their behalf as expressly stated. We just hope that something is done as soon as possible. We just hope the Presidency can intervene.”

Just as Tony spoke a text message arrived and after reading it, he obliged reporters the content. It read:     “Dear Tony, still no internet and fixed line connections for tomorrow’s match. Please, help.”

The distress message was sent from football governing body less than 24 hours to the two semi-final matches of the on-going FIFA U-17 Cup.
Following debts owed MTN, the service providers for the fibre optic link for television signals for the U-17 event, the telecommunication company Wednesday cut off their link. It means that all broadcast licensees receiving televisions signals through optic fibre all over the world would be affected.

Even if they uplink from satellite the quality will be reduced. FIFA scurried to Daar Communications for intervention because they are the host broadcast company for the world event that ends in Abuja on Sunday. And among the responsibilities of the Host Broadcast right holder is to provide International Broadcast Coordination Centre, IBCC where various signals from all the stadia are coordinated and sent to all over the world. MTN is the service provider for the fibre optic that has been in use at the IBCC set up by Daar Communications. And such is among the services AIT has provided for the Local Organising Committee for which they are today being owed over N3 billion.


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