GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS:
You will recall that I addressed you in this same venue on the 13th of March, 2017, on several issues that we are dealing with at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). These ranged from matters arising from the Digital Switch Over process; the revocation of licenses; the vexatious issue of hate speech; violation of the law in respect of the installation of aviation light by broadcasting outfits, to name a few of the issues. But the most important issue that has generated a lot of national attention was in respect of the monies that broadcasting stations owe the NBC.
We had made it clear that all stations were expected to settle their outstanding debts to the NBC, by the end of today, March 31st, 2017, otherwise they stood the risk of being closed down. In the weeks since the NBC’s position about the indebtedness of radio and television stations was made public, a lot has transpired that I must also public declare to the Nigerian people. Over the past few weeks, many licensees have come forward to settle their indebtedness to the NBC; some others have also come to discuss their debts, each with a payment plan that we are examining and sympathetically considering.
In the entire saga of indebtedness of our licensees, I want to acknowledge the role played by the leadership of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), and especially the Chairman, Mr. John Momoh and the Execitive Secretary, Mr. Segun Olaleye. Mr. Momoh made a significant gesture by settling some of the indebtedness of his own company, but together with Mr Olaleye, they had consistently agreed that all licensees must meet their obligations to the NBC, and pay the outstanding fees. In view of the developments of the past few weeks, we have taken the following decisions:
1. All stations are given an extended period of three months till June 30th, 2017, to conclude discussions with the NBC on their payment plans, including a firm commitment to pay these monies within the three months by JUNE 30TH, 2017;
2. In the meantime, the NBC would issue a statement of account to all licensees and allow a reasonable time for reconciliation within the month of April, 2017;
3. This issuance of statements of account would be for the public-owned and private stations alike, so as to assist the publicly-owned stations to seek approvals within government systems that can be very slow; and the opportunity would also be offered for the private stations to seek funds from financial institutions;
4. We will work even more closely with our licensees through the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) and related bodies like APCON, to assist in ensuring that monies owed licensees are paid fully and in time, to ensure they can operate effectively; that would make it much easier for them to meet their licensing obligations to the NBC
Let me re-iterate the fact that the NBC appreciates the role that our licensees play in our country’s development. We have 793 radio and television stations in Nigeria today, and many more will come. Our licensees are creating jobs and offering platforms for robust engagement with our democratic process; broadcasting educates, informs and entertains, and it offer an avenue for content produced by our creative communities. The NBC is therefore committed to ensuring the continuing flowering of this very important sector of our national social and communication architecture. The manner that our licensees have also reacted in the past few weeks, convinces us here at the NBC, that they are aware of their commitment to the Nigerian people, as well as their obligations as licensees of the National Broadcasting Commission.
We will continue to work together, licensee and regulator in the overall interest of Nigeria’s development. I think the past few weeks have made it clear to all, that the new dispensation under President Muhammadu Buhari, stresses a law-governed approach to all processes. That is the essence of a civilized approach to the conduct of affairs. We are committed to that civilized approach at the NBC.
Thank you for your attention!