NBC Threatens to Shut down 89 FM Stations

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja and Emma Okonji and Raheem Akingbolu in Lagos

The National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has threatened to sanction 89 erring city-based FM Radio stations in the country for illegally transmitting beyond their approved limits.

The Director General of NBC, Is’haq Modibo Kawu, wednesday issued the threats in form of sanctions or revocation of licences to the defaulting radio stations at a stakeholders’ meeting on transmitter power in Nigerian broadcasting, it organised. The NBC regulates and controls the broadcasting industry in Nigeria.

The mandate empowers it to establish the national broadcasting code to which all licenced broadcast stations are bound.

It was gathered that the FM stations threatened by the NBC were broadcasting beyond the limit of their signals leading to interference with other service providers.

“We learnt that NBC felt the FM stations acted in breach of broadcast code and were rendering service not in the interest of the public,” he said.

Kawu said the industry was faced with very difficult challenges resulting from unauthorised transmission that is causing frequency interference and clashes.

According to him, “There is illegal and rampant use of transmission power by stations all over Nigeria.
“Stations procure transmitters without respecting the stipulated and recommended transmitter power in city-based FM stations. The consequence of this is that we have frequency clashes occurring all over Nigeria.

“As at February 22, 2017, the NBC had compiled a total of 69 stations around the country, where transmitters had been installed beyond the transmitter power stipulated in the conditions of their licenses, but as at today, we have a list of 89 such stations, and the list is not exhaustive.

“High-power transmitters installed all over the country today, are responsible for the frequency jamming taking place all over Nigeria. We are dealing with an anarchic situation in the Nigerian broadcasting airwaves, to be honest, and there is no responsible regulatory institution that can allow the problem to persist.”

He explain that the electromagnetic spectrum is a finite resource that all nations of the world deploy for various uses, from broadcasting through to space science and telecommunications.

Kawu added that nations understand the importance of this finite resource and take the steps to ensure the judicious use of the radio spectrum to derive maximum benefit for their development purposes.

In his presentation, the Director, Engineering and Technology and NBC, Friday Ojone Ukwela, explained that Electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, a valuable and limited natural resource, is the medium for broadcasting, telecommunications, aviation, navigation, and data services in the areas of earth science, space science, human space exploration, aeronautical research, and disaster management.

He therefore, warned that radio stations must use the spectrum effectively or risk sanction.
“The use of the radio spectrum needs to be planned, managed, and regulated to make the radio spectrum available for all uses.
“The 88MHz –108MHz frequency band is allocated for the FM Radio service by the International Telecoms Union (ITU) and the bandwidth for FM radio is 200KHz. In Nigeria, the guard band between adjacent FM radio stations is a minimum of 200KHz,” he said.

Ukwela however said in 2008 NBC suspended sales and processing of broadcast application forms for FM radio service for these saturated areas that reached their saturation limit.

He further said in 2010 Nigerian Broadcasting Code was review in Uyo, where it was agreed that the coverage area for FM Radio service in Nigeria should be per city as from 2010.

“All existing FM radio stations at the expiration of their licences should revert to the city-based coverage area for FM radio service. Given that the life of a licence is five years, all FM radio licences were expected to be city based in 2015. It was equally agreed that all new FM radio licensees, beginning from 2010 should adhere to this new FM radio service city base coverage area agreement,” Ukwela said.

The commission is however worried that radio stations have not adhered to the agreement reached in 2010, a situation, he said was causing frequency interference around the Nigerian airwave.