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Journalists condemn NBC for withdrawing AIT, Silverbird, 50 others’ licenses

By Esther Kalu

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for withdrawal African Independent Television (AIT), Silverbird television and 50 other broadcast stations’ license over failure to pay renewal fees.

The professional body of all the editors in Nigeria said that the action, if not reversed, would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in a country where jobs are scarce.

It notes that several broadcast stations were struggling to survive in the midst of the high competition in the industry following the licencing of hundreds of more stations by the NBC.

In their unanimous voice, the association called for a review of the NBC Act to increase the lifespan of a broadcast licence from five to at least 10 years.

The President, Mustapha Isah said that NGE is worried because media houses, which played and continue to pay a key role in the nurturing and development of democracy can’t just be off air no matter the reasons.

Isah, through a statement released by the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, on Friday advocated a reduction of the licence fees considering the fact that several broadcast stations now operates in the country, saying for instance, the Lagos zone alone now has close to 50 radio stations.

He urged the NBC to enter into dialogue with the affected stations to restructure the debts owed and work out convenient payment period to ensure their survival.

“While the Guild is not against broadcast stations fulfilling their financial obligations to the NBC, we note that the current harsh operating environment that has crippled every sector in our nation was not taken into account by the NBC before its action.

“Currently, it is difficult for private stations to import broadcast equipment due to the high exchange rate. We are all aware of the high operational cost, including the cost of diesel to power their generating sets”. he said.

The president further urged the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria and the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria to enter into a dialogue with the NBC with a view to find a lasting solution to this recurring issue of licence renewal fees, which often lead to threats of shutdown.

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