The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has revoked licenses of fifty two radio and television stations.
In the list of stations, whose licenses have been revoked, were both private and public broadcast stations.
Some of the affected stations include the Silverbird TV, Rhythm FM, AIT/RayPower FM, MITV, Kogi State Broadcasting Corporation and Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation.
Ordering the affected broadcast stations to shut down their operations in the next twenty four hours, the regulatory body said the licenses were revoked because they had failed to renew their licenses as required by the law.
The Director-General of the NBC, Mallam Balarabe Shehu, in a statement on Friday, directed the NBC state offices to liaise with security agencies to ensure the shut down of the operation of these stations within the next 24 hours.
He said the stations were reminded in May 2022 and were given two weeks to renew their licenses and pay their debts or consider their licenses revoked, adding “three months after the publication, some licensees are yet to pay their outstanding debts.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have reacted to the revocation of the broadcast stations licenses revocation.
Condemning the NBC for the decision, the National President of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, in a statement described the revocation as hasty, ill-timed and reckless.
Isiguzo, who maintained that the stations’ licenses were revoked without a careful deliberation, said: “The decision today by the industry regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission – NBC, to revoke the licenses of 52 broadcast stations nationwide over-indebtedness to the Commission was ill-advised. The affected stations, according to NBC, are said to owe arrears of licence fees amounting to N2.6 billion since 2015.
“Although the Director General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Shehu, claimed that this development had no political motives, yet we insist that the action was ill-timed and reckless. It should be noted that this wholesale revocation of licences at this critical time of insecurity in the Country appears to be a decision taken without careful prior deliberation, consultation or counsel.
“While we regret the inability of these broadcast stations to fulfil their obligations to NBC, in view of dwindling resources, we caution against such a large-scale clampdown of broadcast stations in disregard to security issues and the attendant consequence.
“We cannot afford the unpleasant outcome of such a media blackout at this time. We call on NBC to exercise more restraint on this issue in consideration of national security and allow for more dialogue and consultation to find a better way of dealing with the situation.”
Also, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a tweet threatened to sue NBC if its decision was not reversed immediately.
According to the tweet: “The decision by the Buhari administration to revoke the licences of over 50 television and radio stations is a deliberate ploy to stifle media freedom, free expression and access to information in Nigeria. The decision must be immediately reversed.”