The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has held a Community Radio Orientation Workshop for representatives of 17 communities which were recently granted community radio licences.
Congratulating the newly licensed community radio broadcasting operators, Mr. Emeka Mba, the NBC Director General in his opening remark stressed their importance as pioneers pointing out that their operation would determine the fate of other numerous communities itching to obtain licence to operate radio at the grassroots.
He cautioned them that the information they churn out “must make a difference between access to health and poverty, education and crisis, and indeed has become a matter of life and death” and not focus on entertainment.
He emphasized the importance of community radio as the third tier of broadcasting which is meant to avail Nigerians living in rural areas access to adequate information that could save lives and deepen the partnerships between the government and the governed.
Mba urged operators to focus their programming on issues of poverty, agriculture, health, gender inequality, education, and other social problems common to their communities.
He urged the operators to compliance wholly with the terms and conditions of their licenses as provided for in the NBC Act, Nigeria Broadcasting Code, and all relevant laws. He warned that breach of the rules would attract sanction including revocation of licence depending on the gravity of the violation.
Ten papers addressing various issues around community radio broadcasting were presented at the two-day gathering. These included Legal Framework for the Operations of Community Broadcasting in Nigeria by Mrs. Alheri Saidu; The Place of Community Broadcasting in National Information Policy by Dr. Mujitada Sada, Director of Research at NBC; Technical Parameters of Community Broadcasting in Nigeria by Mr. Lawrence Anyejo; Community Broadcasting within the Ambit of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code by Mrs. Bunmi Cole; The Challenge of Managing Community Broadcast Station in Nigeria by Mr. Faruk Salah; and Revenue Drive and its Management in a Community Broadcast station as Provided by the Relevant Laws and Regulation by Mr. Boniface Ekwealor.
The other presentations made were Researching the Community Broadcast Audience, a Base for Quality Programming by Mallam Usman Jimada; Community Broadcasting a Tool for Peaceful Coexistence by Mr. Femi Ayeni; Building Harmonious Relation between Community Broadcasting and other tiers of Broadcasting by Mallam Awwalu Salihu; and The Challenge of Making Community Broadcasting Truly People Owned by Dr. Armstrong Idachaba.
Professor Umar Pate of the Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano who delivered the keynote address pointed out that the current broadcasting system was deficient, elitist and urban-centered adding that community radio was coming to fill the gap stressing that community radio should be owned and operated by the community to advance community values and collective interests.
He pointed out challenges to the operation of community broadcasting as audiences’ high expectations due to their exposure to already existing and competing stations such as digital television, the BBC/ VOA with their high technical standards. He counselled that: “There is therefore the need for operators to do an audience needs analysis to set for themselves a unique identity in order to sustain their listeners.”
He also listed capacity building and development, management issues and sustainability as some challenges the operators may face.
While advising the operators to be focused in their vision and to take present day realities into consideration, he said their unique selling point should be research, planning, creativity, dynamism, relevance, adherence to high technical standards, promotion of people’s rights as well as upholding growth virtues of accountability and transparency. He advised the stations to be socially responsible in order to drive sustainability.
Prof. Pate advised the operators to conscious of local political intrigues and interests as well as local conflicts and insurgencies in order to ensure safety of property and personnel.
He urged them to promote of issues of good governance and accountability; Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development as areas from where they could get rich content packaged for the stations.
Dr. Pate also advised a realistic management structure and encouragement of volunteers for the purpose of financial sustainability as steps to speed up the growth of community broadcasting.
The workshop attracted 78 participants comprising of representatives of the newly licensed community radios, facilitators from the NBC, UNDP, the EU, community development experts, the academia and members of the press. It took place in Kaduna and was organized in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and European Union (EU).