NLC Seeks Downward Review of Media Operating Licence

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the federal government to urgently review downwards the operating licences of media organisations in the country in response to the prevailing harsh economic condition.

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) recently notified the management of 52 electronic media organisations in the country of its decision to withdraw the licences of 52 media houses for their inability to pay for their license renewal.

Owing to this, the NLC in a statement signed by its President, Ayuba Wabba, stated that the order by NBC smacks of insensitivity to the welfare of the staff of the media houses and Nigerians as a whole.

It described information dissemination as a social service, adding that for the media organisation to ensure uninterrupted transmission required a lot of sacrifice and resources.

“It was with disbelief that the Nigeria Labour Congress received the news of the withdrawal of the licences of 52 media houses including both electronic television and radio media houses.

“In defence of the media, democratic and economic rights of Nigerians, we call on the NBC to rescind this decision to withdraw the operating licences of the affected 52 media houses.

“In light of our foregoing concerns, we urge that the media operating licence be reviewed downwards as information dissemination is a social service,” it said.

While expressing relief on the new reasoning by the NBC to allow the affected media houses to continue to operate, the NLC stated that though the move was commendable, it still maintained the position that the original action lacked merit.

“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,” it added.

The NLC stated that the most palpable reason for the failure of many of these media houses to pay for the renewal of their operating licences could be the deteriorating economic conditions in Nigeria.

It also stated that 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, many media houses are managing to stay afloat.

“Largely to blame for this sad state of affairs is government which mismanagement of the economy has ensured that a litre of diesel is now knocking at the borderline of N1000.

“To compound the situation is the epileptic supply of electricity with the national grid collapsing intermittently for the umpteenth time in recent months.

“In addition to the soaring and scary rising energy costs which hit electronic media houses hardest given that they must always be on air whether it makes economic sense or not, there are salaries to pay. maintenance services, and sundry basic operating costs to keep the media houses running and serving their listening and viewing public,” it said.

The NLC wondered how the NBC expected the media organisations to survive the economic suffocations and be able to renew operating licences.

“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.”

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