Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has extended the ultimatum period issued indebted broadcasting organisations in the country to offset their debt to the regulatory agency.
The Commission had earlier in March, this year given the broadcasting stations up to 31st March, 2017 to pay up or risked been closed down.
But NBC Friday said it has decided to extend the ultimatum by three months. Hence, indebted stations have been given till June 30th 2017 to clear their debt or risk been closed down.
Mallam Is'haq Modibo Kawu, Commission’s Director General, announced the extension Friday during a press briefing on the update on the issue of fees payment.
Kawu said the decision was reached following the commitment reached with the leadership of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), the umbrella body of all licenced broadcasting stations in the country.
He said: “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.
Kawu also said that the commission in the new month will issue the statement of accounts of all the stations.
This he said will help each station to know its financial status and also reconcile their books
“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.
“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.”
He added that the commission was ready to close down stations.
“The truth is that we are ready to close down stations,” he stressed.
He however explained that following the March 31st, 2017 deadline issued to the broadcasting stations, some have commenced payment, while others have come forward to make further enquiries on their indebtedness.
Also, as part of the efforts at strengthening the broadcasting stations in the country, Kawu said the commission will be working closely with all the licensed stations to ensure monies owed them are paid on time.
On the actual indebtedness of the broadcasting stations, Kawu said the commission was still going through the books to actually determine the full Indebtedness of the stations.
NBC Boss however said that the Commission so far was okay with the commitment of the licensees.
He stressed that before now most of the licensees were not used to paying fees. This he however said was changing with the current administration change agenda.
According to him, “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.”