The Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba, has commended the positive role of broadcast stations in national development and assured them of continued government support.
Prof. Idachaba who made the remarks at a press briefing held at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja on May 27 2020, commended the broadcasting stations for promptly rising to the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and assured them of government’s readiness to assist them in the discharge of their duties.
He explained that an NBC team went around to sensitize and encourage Broadcasting Stations to be proactive and ethically correct in their coverage and reportage of the pandemic.
He noted the tour served as a necessary boost in terms of stimulating the activities amongst the broadcast stations as it largely contributed to the interventions that have been witnessed in the industry so far.
Part of the interventions, according to Prof. Idachaba, included the granting of a two-month licence fees waiver to the Commission’s licensees. He disclosed that there was also the donation of protective/preventive items to some broadcast stations for staff on essential duties during the Lockdown. The support was provided to community broadcasting stations which cater to the grass-roots.
Other interventions included the distribution of enlightenment jingles in the local Languages to educate and enlighten the diverse communities as well as the setting up of the Presidential taskforce, which key function was the daily updating of the public on the pandemic situation and government’s response to it.
Prof. Idachaba also disclosed that the Commission had instructed Direct-To-Home Pay-TV operators in the country to decrypt all local television channels on their platforms to enable subscribers to receive, unhindered, signals of these channels which, daily, contains an update on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another key point was the public presentation of the Amendment of the 6th edition of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code to stakeholders, including the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Electronic Media Content Producers, the Academia and other key stakeholders in the Broadcasting Industry.
The Acting DG also said that very important progressive steps were being taken for the actualization of the Digital Switchover, pointing out that there have been several online meetings with various players and stakeholders in the Digital ecosystem. He said the NBC has concluded plans for a new timeline, indicating new cities where it will be moving to and the details will be released once the lockdown is eased.
The NBC DG said the Commission also released the quarterly profile of broadcasting stations that contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code for the 1st Quarter, 2020. He added that 28 Broadcast Stations violated Areas of the Code dealing with obscenity, political breaches, hate speech, unprofessionalism, unverifiable claims, advertisement, and technical offences.
Prof. Idachaba said all the erring stations were either queried or sanctioned in line with the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code while the summary of the report was sent to different online platforms.
He disclosed that the Commission also deliberated on a new licence fee regime and Broadcast signal distributor carriage fees for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) operators, adding that the new rates would affect National Free-view DTT; Regional Free-View DTT; Local Free-view DTT. He said the Committee expects all licensed DTT operators to commence payment of the new fees, which are lower than the fees in the analogue era.
He advised all broadcasters to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code and the National Broadcasting Act CAP N11 Laws of the Federation, 2004.