The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Is-had Modibbo, said in Abuja on Monday that the commission had revoked the licences of 54 broadcast stations that he said refused to pay the mandatory fees within the 60-day window permitted under the law.
He said similar treatment would be meted out to other station operators who refused to pay their licence fees to the commission.
Modibbo, who spoke at a press conference, said the NBC had also given all stations who owed the commission over N5bn till the end of March 2017 to pay up their licence fees or have their stations’ licences revoked.
He said, “Over the past two weeks, I gave directive that the licences of 54 companies that were issued licences but had refused to pay their fees within the mandatory 60-day window, be revoked.
“Those licences are revoked. There is another list of over 120 licences that were paid within the mandatory period but were unable to come on air, within the mandatory two years; they are also being processed for revocation. And they will be revoked. Frequencies cannot be held indefinitely by individuals.
“At our stakeholders’ conference with broadcast organisations, I had informed station owners of a persistent pattern of refusal to pay licence fees.
“Stations around Nigeria owe the NBC over N5bn. Even the statutory act of informing the NBC, six months before expiration of licences of intention to continue as licensee is willfully ignored by stations.
“Licence fees are in arrears; there is no plan by many of these stations to pay; while some even have the temerity to write the NBC, the regulatory institution, that the amount they are obliged to pay is too much, consequently, they then tell us how much they are willing to pay, and even adding the time they are going to pay such sums that they have decided to pay.”
He said the commission would bring up stiffer conditions for the issuance of radio and television licences to prospective owners.
The DG specifically warned that cases where people use political connections to get illegal and undue favours that run contrary to the NBC Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code would no longer be condoned.
He said, “We are delighted that Nigerians are investing in setting up radio and television stations; they create jobs; open up accesses for content producers to showcase their talents and are contributing to national development.
“But no one has a right to hold onto allocated frequencies indefinitely, when the resource itself is finite and there are other people waiting and ready to make use of those frequencies.”
He said the June 2017 deadline remained sacrosanct on Digital Switch Over.
He said, “The next phase is our plan for the six states that we have chosen to switch on. As I address you today, Pinnacle Communications Limited has commenced the installation of the facilities for Kaduna. I was there to inspect the work being done at the weekend.
“Our colleagues can go to the site on Rabah Road in Kaduna to verify that work is advancing very rapidly there. They have also concluded plans for Delta and Gombe states, while the second signal distributor, ITS, will similarly mobilise into Kwara, Enugu and Osun states.”