The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) of Nigeria on August 19, 2022 announced the revocation of the licences of 52 radio and television stations comprising both privately and state government-owned stations across Nigeria for allegedly owing the Commission N2.6 billion licence renewal fees since 2015.
Announcing the revocation of the licences, Malam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), while briefing journalists in Abuja directed the stations to shut down their operations within 24 hours adding that there was no political undertone in revoking the licences of the debtor-broadcast stations.
Mallam Ilelah asked the stations to pay their fees before 24 hours to avert total disconnection.
He said earlier in May 2022, the Commission published the list of licensees that are indebted to the Commission and that it granted them two weeks to renew their licenses and pay their debts or consider their licenses revoked, frequencies withdrawn and the withdrawn frequencies reassigned to others who are ready to abide by the necessary requirements.
The NBC DG said three months after the publication, some licensees were yet to pay their outstanding debts, in contravention of the National Broadcasting Commission Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, particularly Section 10(a) of the third schedule of the Act.
The continued operation of the debtor-stations, in view of this development, according to Malam Ilelah, is illegal and constitutes a threat to national security.
Continuing, he said: “Therefore, after due consideration, the NBC hereby announces the revocation of the licenses of the under-listed stations and gives them 24 hours to shut down their operations. Our offices nationwide are hereby directed to collaborate with security agencies to ensure immediate compliance.”
The NBC DG advised all broadcast stations that have not renewed their licenses for the current duration to do so within the next 30 days to avoid sanctions.
He also called on all IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and all other broadcast stations that are streaming contents online to register with the Commission to avoid disconnection. He pointed out that: “Broadcasters should note that having a DTT or FM license does not warrant a broadcaster to stream online; they are two different licenses.”
He said the Commission has in talks with the media houses for more than a year, but they refused to revert.
The NBC action elicited widespread condemnation with individuals and groups calling on the commission to reverse the revocation.
On August 20 however, the NBC extended enforcement of revocation order on the debtor broadcast stations from 24 hours to August 23, 2022.
In a statement signed by the Director General, The Commission said the extension was due to the appeal by the affected broadcast stations, relevant stakeholders, public-spirited individuals and organisations.
The statement reads: “This is to inform all the affected broadcast stations whose licenses were revoked and given 24 hours to pay all outstanding license fees that the National Broadcasting Commission has extended the period which all outstanding debts are to be paid from 24 hours to Wednesday August 23, 2022.
“All affected broadcast stations who fail to defray their debts on or before August 23, 2022 are directed to shut down by 12am on August 24, 2022.”
The stations whose licences were revoked are:
- Silverbird Television (Silverbird Communication Co. Ltd), Network
- Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd), FM Abuja
- Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd), FM Lagos
- Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd), FM Yenagoa
- Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd), FM Port Harcourt
- Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd), FM Benin
- Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd), FM Jos
- Africa Independent Television (AIT)/Ray Power FM (Daar Communications Ltd), Network
- Greetings FM (Greetings Media Ltd), Network
- Tao FM (Ovidi Communications Ltd), FM Okene
- Zuma FM (Zuma FM Ltd), FM Suleija
- Crowther FM (Crowther Communications Ltd), FM Abuja
- WE FM (Kings Broadcasting Ltd), Benin
- Linksman International Ltd, FM Keeffi
- Bomay Broadcasting Services Ltd, Abuja
- MITV (Murhi International Group Ltd), Ibadan
- Classic FM (Pinkt Nigeria Ltd), Port Harcourt
- Classic FM (Pinkt Nigeria Ltd), Lagos
- Classic TV (Pinkt Nigeria Ltd), Lagos
- Beat FM (Megalectrics LTD), Lagos
- Cooper Communications Ltd, Lagos
- Splash FM (West Midlands Ltd), Ibadan
- Rock City FM (Boot Communications Ltd), Abeokuta
- Family FM (Kalaks Investments Nig. Ltd), Ilugun
- Space FM (Creazioni Nig. Ltd), Ibadan
- Radio Jeremi (Radio Jeremi ltd), Effurun
- Wave FM (South Atlantic Media Ltd), Port Harcourt
- Breeze FM (Bays Water ltd), Akure
- Vibes FM (Vibes Communication Ltd), Port Harcourt
- Family Love FM (Multimesh Broadcasting Co. ltd), Port Harcourt
- Kogi State Broadcasting Corporation
- Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation
- Niger State Broadcasting Corporation
- Gombe State Broadcasting Corporation
- Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation
- Lagos DSB
- Osun State Broadcasting Corporation
- Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation
- Ondo State Broadcasting Corporation
- Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation
- Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation
- Cross River State Broadcasting Corporation
- Imo State Broadcasting Corporation
- Anambra State Broadcasting Corporation
- Borno State Broadcasting Corporation
- Yobe State Broadcasting Corporation
- Sokoto State Broadcasting Corporation
- Zamfara State Broadcasting Corporation
- Kebbi State Broadcasting Corporation
- Jigawa State Broadcasting Corporation
- Kaduna State Broadcasting Corporation
- Katsina State Broadcasting Corporation
On August 26, the NBC temporarily suspended the shutdown order it issued indebted broadcast stations in the country. Mallam Shehu Ilela disclosed in a statement that the decision to step back was a sequel to a follow-up meeting the Commission held with executives of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and other parties in the industry.
The NBC said it had received positive responses from the debtor licensees, including “big players” in the broadcast industry following a shutdown notice to licensees that are indebted to the commission.
While expressing appreciation to BON, the affected licensees and Broadcast Stakeholders for their responses and interventions, the Commission specifically thanked DAAR Communications Ltd and Silverbird TV/Rhythm FM for their responses.
In its final words, it said “The Commission is not unaware of the difficulties this shutdown must have caused the operators and other stakeholders but must state that the Commission will always operate within the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap. N11, Laws of the Federation, 2004.”