The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in response to the call of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), has reviewed the decision to shut down media houses that are yet to meet up with the time line given for operating license renewal. The NLC had called on the NBC to rescind the decision in a statement by the President, Ayuba Wabba; he blamed the delayed license renewal on the harsh economic environment for the businesses. Hence the congress requested for a downward review of the renewal fees.
The statement reads: “It was with disbelief that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) received the news of the withdrawal of the licenses of 52 media houses including both electronic television and radio media houses. While we understand that the NBC has a regulatory duty to ensure rules keeping, we believe that the action taken by the NBC is a little too drastic, dramatic, draconian, and debilitating not only for the affected media houses but also for their staff and indeed millions of Nigerians who follow programs from the affected media houses.
“The first natural instinct to the withdrawal of the operating license by the NBC is the idea that the affected media houses did not deliberately avoid paying for their operating licenses. Such would be akin to cutting so close to the bone. The most palpable reason for the failure of many of the media houses to pay for the renewal of their operating licenses could be easily found in the deteriorating economic conditions in Nigeria. This is understandable given the severe stress and strain that businesses in Nigeria have been subjected to owing to fallout of the COVID 19 lockdown in 2020, the ongoing disruption in global and domestic energy supply, the foreign exchange volatilities, and the associated hyper-inflation.
“Amidst these operational suffocations, how does the NBC expect the media houses to generate the money to renew their operating licenses? Indeed, Nigeria’s media houses should be eulogized for resilience, and tenacity in the face of prevailing economic blizzards. The action of the NBC also smacks of insensitivity to the welfare of the staff of the media houses which operations are being shut down. It is unthinkable that in the middle of very traumatic economic realities, the government would be thinking of flinging many Nigerians into the unemployment market. Well, this is not new.