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Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria expresses fear over fate of conventional media in Nigeria

The  Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria(BON) has raised fear that the conventional media is under threat due to harsh economic environment, noting that its role as stabilizing factor in maintaining political stability, security and peace in the country is gradually going into oblivion.

Penpushing reports that, the organisation raised the concern in a statement signed by the Executive Secretary, Dr Yemisi Bamgbose, stressing that these issues have to be addressed urgently to avoid the total shutdown of operations by Broadcast Organisations, most of whom have resorted to reducing transmission hours.

‘There are ominous signs that danger of high magnitude is looming in Nigeria as the conventional media that has been the stabilising factor in maintaining political stability, security and peace of the country is under serious threat due to the harsh economic environment’, Bamgbose noted

Penpushing further reports that, the statement pointed out that, the Nigerian public and indeed governments at all levels, are served by these radio and television stations; ensuring that the society is well informed and providing outlets for the governments in its obligation for public enlightenment.

‘Even before the announcement of the total collapse of the National Electricity Grid, public power supply had been epileptic, at best, and bills for the non-available power supply kept and keeps rising unabated’, the statement noted.

‘There is a lingering scarcity of petroleum products and diesel, which fuels the generating sets of these organisations, has more than doubled in price over the last four months.The value of the Naira has tumbled so badly while remaining very scarce affecting the repairs and replacement of broadcast equipment, all of which are imported’, Bamgbose stated.

‘The National Broadcasting Commission’s levy of 2.5 % on turnover (not profit) outside of Station License fees, Federal Statutory taxes, State and Local Government taxes and Levies combine to impose a huge burden on the retained revenues of Broadcast Licensees’, he said.

‘All broadcast stations (Radio and Television, Private and Public) are supported by the same pool of advertisers and while broadcast stations are increasing in number, the advertising spend has been reducing over the last ten years, owing to the dwindling economy, and this has adversely affected the income of Broadcast Organisations even as operating costs are increasing daily’.

‘Radio and Television stations typically need approximately 500,000 to 700,000 and 700,000 to 1,000,000 daily to run generators, which have become their main sources of power supply, to maintain their transmissions and keep the equipment at the optimal temperatures necessary for the efficient performance and sustaining the projected lifespan of their equipment’.

‘Broadcast media, being the source that  public turn to for authenticating breaking news, must gather information, produce programmes and transmit same to keep the public informed and entertained. With diesel costs averaging more than N700 per litre and having to resort to buying petrol, from the black market, at more than N200 per litre, Broadcast Organisations are recording such huge deficits that have resulted in staff salaries being delayed’.

‘Broadcast organisations that are, and have been for a while now, struggling to keep their stations on air are doing so in order to ensure unfettered access to verified and authentic information which helps to avoid the chaos that could arise from Fake News which could lead to public disorder’.

‘If  the issues raised above are not addressed immediately, it portends grave consequences for the nation as accurate, verified and information dissemination, pubic enlightenment and entertainment provided by conventional media organisations might no longer be available, therefore giving way to  uninhibited proliferation of fake news and unverified information.

‘If this happens, it will be difficult to counter hate speech and misleading information that could heat up the polity and exacerbate the already precarious security and fragile peace of the country’, Bamgbose emphasised.

Penpushing further reports that, the commission, however, advised that, both the Executive and Legislative arms of Government take advantage of the current amendment of the constitution to resolve the lingering issue of Radio and Television License fees with which Public Broadcast Stations are funded in Europe, South Africa and Ghana.

‘The amendment will be to remove the collection of these License fees from the Local Governments and have same be collected by the Federal and State Governments as the local governments do not have any role in Broadcast Operations. This should resolve the funding for Public Broadcasting in Nigeria’.

‘There be an immediate audit of the Digital Access Fee (DAF), currently being collected on behalf of Broadcasters in the Digital Switch Over process. The collection of this fee over the last 5 years should have amounted to a huge sum running into billions of Naira and the funds should be used to ameliorate the current liquidity challenges of the broadcasters much as the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) was used to relieve the transportation costs from the ports of landing of petroleum products to the remote areas of Nigeria’

‘The collection of the Digital Access Fees should be domiciled in the National Broadcasting Commission immediately. Federal and State Broadcast organisations should be designated as Public Broadcasters which should only be funded through the Radio and Television License Fees and should not play in the advertising space’, the statement added.

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