By Emmanuel Elebeke
THE National Broadcast-ing Commission (NBC) has issued a three-week ultimatum to all broadcasting stations in the country to pay all their outstanding licence fees or face sanctions.
The Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Is’haq Modibo Kawu who issued the warning at the broadcast stakeholders’ meeting held in Abuja said it was regrettable that many broadcast stations operating in Nigeria have refused to pay they license fees amounting to N5 billion and threatened to invoke all relevant laws against erring stations to recover the debt.
He said, “There are very worrisome issues in our operations. The first is the situation whereby many stations have refused to pay their licence fees; even the statutory act of informing the NBC, six months before the expiration of licence and signifying intention to continue as a licencee is ignored.
“Our licencees carry on as if they have their licences for keeps and the NBC cannot withdraw licences. It is important to remind us all that all licences are provisional, no matter how long you have held them.
And for emphasis, I want to let you know that stations are owing over N5 billion as licence fees. I will like to use this medium to inform you, that the NBC would be invoking the relevant laws against erring stations. Consequently, all stations without exception are expected to complete all payments owed to the Commission by March 15, 2017,” he said.
Illegal and rampant use of transmission power
Kawu said that the Commission was equally worried by the illegal and rampant use of transmission power by stations all over Nigeria. According to him, some stations procured transmitters without respecting the stipulated and recommended transmitter power in city-based FM stations.
“The consequence of this is that we have frequency clashes occurring all over Nigeria. As of yesterday, we had compiled a total of 69 stations around Nigeria, that have installed transmitters beyond the transmitter power stipulated in their licenses, and that is not even exhaustive,”he said.
On hate speech, he said: “I would like to draw your attention to the dangerous trend of hate speech that has become a major problem in our country today. Broadcasters are beginning to abdicate our gatekeeping role; there are too many stray dogs around the house now; our stations must not be arenas for inciting and hate speech that can endanger the good order of our country.
Broadcasting must promote pluralism and decency, as well as help to deepen the content of Nigeria’s democracy. We must not divide Nigeria. If we have forgotten, radio became a medium that helped to trigger the tragic genocide in Rwanda.