MON, JULY 06 2020-theG&BJournal-The Federal Government today approved debt forgiveness and discount for all functioning, licensed terrestrial radio and television stations in Nigeria, effective July 10, following recommendations from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
According to the Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during a press conference in Abuja the debt forgiveness and discount shall apply to pay TV service operators in Nigeria.
The recommendations approved include, 60% debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations in the country.
Information and Culture Minister noted that the criterion for enjoying the debt forgiveness is for debtor stations to pay 40 percent of their existing debt within the next 3 months.
‘’Any station that is unable to pay the balance of 40 percent indebtedness within the 3 months window shall forfeit the opportunity to enjoy the stated debt forgiveness,’’ he said.
It is also recommended that the existing license fee is further discounted by 30 per cent for all Open Terrestrial Radio and Television services effective July 10th, 2020 and the debt forgiveness shall apply to functional licensed Terrestrial Radio and Television stations only. The debt forgiveness and discount shall not apply to pay TV service operators in Nigeria and the effective date of the debt forgiveness shall be July 10th 2020 to October 6th, 2020.
Lai Mohammed said that the Federal Government has made these interventions with a view to re-positioning the Broadcast Industry to play its critical role of promoting democracy and good governance in Nigeria.
‘’It is our expectation that the sector will cash in on this unique opportunity to make itself an effective catalyst for national development.’’
Prior to the Federal Government intervention, many Nigerian radio and television stations remain indebted to the Federal government to the tune of N7.8 billion in total. Also, many of the stations are faced with the reality that their licenses will not be renewed, in view of their indebtedness.
‘’The COVID-19 pandemic affected all sectors of the nation’s economy. The Broadcast Industry has been particularly hard-hit due to falling revenues occasioned by the dwindling adverts and sponsored programmes, in the wake of the pandemic,’’ the Minister acknowledged.
The Minister noted that on 6 May 2020, he received the officials and other representatives of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), who made a comprehensive presentation on the effects of the pandemic on the industry and sought critical interventions by Federal and State Governments.