Federal Government Grants Broadcast Stations 2 Months Licence Fee Waiver, Sets up Committee on Mitigating Effects of COVID-19 

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture

The Federal Government has announced the approval of a two-month licence fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations in Nigeria and set up a 14-member committee of industry stakeholders to look into and advise it on the best way to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed these at a meeting with representatives of the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) in Abuja on May 6, 2020.

The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) had requested the federal government to approve tax rebates for the broadcast stations as well as grant a one-year moratorium in the payment of annual operating licence fee payable to the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

BON also requested the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to institute a special broadcast sector stimulus to enable broadcast stations to access long term facilities at a single-digit interest rate.

Alhaji Mohammed explained that the approval of a two-month licence fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations followed the request by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to grant the waiver to the terrestrial broadcast stations in Nigeria.

Noting that BON members have been hit hard by the effects of the current pandemic, the Minister said they are not alone as the entire Creative Industry, which also covers the Broadcast Industry, has been affected by the pandemic that has inflicted extensive damage on the economy of nations across the world.

He said “We have therefore decided that instead of addressing these problems piecemeal, we should do so holistically for a more positive outcome,” stressing that the Creative Industry is a very critical sector of the nation’s economy and a major plank of the economic diversification policy of this Administration. He said the sector creates the highest number of jobs after Agriculture, especially for the youth and therefore, there is need for a collective and government-supported approach in dealing with the immediate, short and long term palliatives and initiatives for the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the sector.

The committee of industry stakeholders to look into and advise the federal government on mitigating the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry is headed by stand-up comedian, AtunyotaAlleluyaAkpobo also known as Alli.

Other members of the Committee include Bolanle Austen Peters, Film and Performing Arts (TerraKulture); Charles Novia, Television and Independent Producer (TeenTV); SegunArinze, Actor and Producer; Ali Jita, Actor and Musician; Baba Agba, Film Director (BCI Studios); KeneOkwuosa, Cinema and Distribution (Filmhouse) and EfeOmoregbe, Record label and Collective rights management (Hypertek/Now Muzik).

Others are Prince Daniel Aboki, Radio and Film (CoolFM/WaZoBia); ChiomaUde, Streaming (Envivo); OlumadeAdesemowo, Television and Platform (FreeTV); Dare Art Alade, Livespot Entertainment; HajiaSa’a Ibrahim, Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON); and Anita Eboigbe, News Agency of Nigeria, who will serve as Secretary of the Committee

The Committee was given the following Terms of Reference and has four weeks to submit its report:

  • To assess the expected impact of the pandemic on the industry in general
  • Advise the Government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses in the sector as well as to create succour for the industry small businesses
  • Suggest the type of taxation and financing that is best for the industry at this time to encourage growth
  • Advise the Government on any other measure or measures that can be undertaken to support the industry.

Speaking earlier, the Chairperson of BON, HajiaSa’a Ibrahim, represented by Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, observed that the recent outbreak of COVID -19 pandemic and the resulting effects have adversely affected revenue generation and earnings of the broadcast outlets which if not properly managed will lead to the collapse and shut down of many of these information dissemination outlets with attendant unemployment and decline in the availability of information.

She, therefore, called for urgent mitigating measures for broadcast stations in the country, disclosing that privately-owned broadcast stations have contributed over N2 billion worth of airtime, free of charge, for public sensitization and awareness campaign for the containment of the disease in Nigeria as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.