Nigeria: Minister urges NBC to engage stakeholders on broadcast code

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, has urged the to engage stakeholders in its operations to check violations of the broadcasting Code.

Idris made the call during a one-day working visit to the commission’s Headquarters in Abuja.

He stated the need to change the erroneous narrative that NBC was synonymous with sanctions and fines.

“I don’t believe that NBC is all about sanctions. Each time NBC is on the news is about a station committing one infraction or the other.

“But I think beyond that, we need to look from within. We need a lot of public enlightenment. On this, I think public communication in this regard is a bit low.

“You need to up it so that people will understand further what the role of NBC is. This is because members of the public see NBC only when there is a sanction.

“I think it is better for NBC to step up its public engagement for the public to understand that the commission is not all about sanctions but also about its capacity to help the industry grow and broadcasters reach their potential.

“I know that you are doing well, but you need to do much more in that regard. It is only when you do that, Nigerians will see you, not from that punitive side, but as partners in progress,” Idris said.

He noted that the current moves to change the act establishing the NBC at the National Assembly were commendable.

“When the commission was established, certain things were not taken into consideration, thus the need to change the act,” the minister said.

He expressed satisfaction with the efforts the commission was making to host the AFRICAST later in the month.

Speaking, the Director-General of NBC, Malam Balarabe llelah, said the commission has a total of 28 State Offices and 10 Zonal Offices with 419 staff members.

The commission, he said, is monitoring over 777 stations.

“Out of the number, 609 are radio stations and 168 are television stations.

“During our monitoring activities, a total of 3,312 warnings were issued in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters of 2022 and 2023. In 2022 a total of 125 stations were penalised.

“In 2023, a total of 1,238 warnings were given, while during the same year, 62 stations were penalised.

“On Digital Switch Over, the Commission determines to work on simultaneous delivery of Nigeria to the life-changing experience of digital broadcasting using SIMULCRYPT.

“Against this background, NBC has facilitated signing of agreement between ITS and NTA-Star Nigeria to actualising this in the earliest possible time,” he said.

The NBC boss added that the debt profile of broadcasters is over three billion naira.

According to him, that is why in May 2022, the commission published in the National Dailies, the list of licences who were indebted to the commission.

He added that the commission then granted them two weeks to renew their licences and pay their debts or consider their licences revoked.

“Upon expiration of the deadline by three months, 52 licences who refused to pay their outstanding debts or showed commitments, in contravention of section 10 (a) of the third schedule of the NBC Act, had on Aug. 19, 2022, had their licences revoked.

“The commission has recently faced some challenges following a Federal High Court ruling stopping NBC from penalising erring broadcasters in a case where the commission was not represented.

“We have already appealed the case. In another judgement on a similar case on October 4, a High Court in Jos passed a judgement that NBC has powers to fine,” he said.

The NBC explained that Africast 2023, held last in 2018, would be held in Lagos adding that it will attract participants from Africa and the world.

He called on the information minister to support NBC in making this year’s edition superb.

Subsequently, the minister and his delegation were taken on a facility tour of NBC’s newly acquired state-of-the-art Nationwide Broadcast Monitoring Equipment at its Headquarters.

The Artificial Centre is equipped with Ultra Modern Artificial with Ultra Modern Intelligence-driven system.