The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has expressed concern over the shutting down of over 50 broadcast stations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for failing to pay their renewal licence fees, arguing that the action, if not reversed, will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in a country where jobs are scarce.
Penpushing reports that President of the Guild, Mustapha Isah and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, in a statement on Friday, pointed out that the current harsh operating environment that has crippled every sector in our nation was not taken into account by the commission before its action.
The professional body of all the editors in Nigeria emphaised that the roles media houses played and continued to play, in the nurturing and development of democracy can’t just be off air no matter the reasons.
“The 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’, the statement said.
“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”, the guild stated.
Penpushing further reports that, the Guild added that several broadcast stations are just managing to survive in the midst of the high competition in the industry following the licencing of hundreds of more stations by the commission.
The body of editors called for a review of the National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) Act to increase the lifespan of a broadcast licence from five to at least 10 years, and equally advocated a reduction of the licence fees considering the fact that several broadcast stations now operates in the country.
Penpushing also reports that, the body cited example that the Lagos zone alone now has close to 50 radio stations,and tasked the commission to enter into dialogue with the affected stations to restructure the debts owed and work out convenient payment period to ensure their survival.
“A caring government should be concerned about the possibility of job losses than revenue generation. After all, one of the functions of the NBC is working for the survival and the development of the broadcast industry”
“A critical stakeholder in the nation’s democratic space cannot be shut out at this critical moment of our democracy, especially when the country is preparing for the 2023 general election’, the statement emphasised
‘The NGE, therefore urged the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria and the Independent Broadcasting Organisation 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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