By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
Abuja – The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has restated its commitment to effective regulation of broadcasting in the country to sanitise the industry.
The Director-General of NBC, Malam Is’haq Modibbo-Kawu made this known on Friday in Abuja.
Modibbo-Kawu said that in spite of the recent issues with DAAR Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower station, the commission would not relent in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities.
“We will continue to operate at a professional level; as a lawful regulatory body for broadcasting in Nigeria, we will not stop engaging our licensees.
“However, we do not relate with the licensees on the basis of their political affiliations or any other subjective platform.
“We hold our licensees to account only on the basis of their fidelity to the Nigerian Broadcasting Code. We are also opposed to the persistent refusal by many licensees to fulfil their own obligations.
“There is also a strange sense of entitlement that is expressed through name calling, blackmail and anger,’’ Modibbo-Kawu said.
The director-general decried the deliberate refusal of some broadcast organisations to renew their licences, saying that the commission was being owed over N4 billion.
He said that some licensees were also telling the commission how much they wanted to pay.
“I want to reiterate that there is no licensee that is too big or small to be regulated. We are not, and we will never be, a censorship institution.
“The NBC Act has not given us such powers and neither did the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
“We remain a regulatory agency that is committed to ensuring that the Nigerian broadcasting impacts positively on setting the agenda for the social, cultural, economic, political and technological development of our nation.
“In doing that, we shall ensure no broadcasting organisation incites, engender public disorder or is generally disrespectful to human dignity.
“Our regulatory duties is to ensure that broadcasting in Nigeria adheres to the general principles of legality, decency, integrity, truth and respect for human dignity as well as the cultural, moral and social drives of the people,” he said.
Modbbo-Kawu also said that President Muhammadu Buhari remained fully committed to the Digital Switch Over project.
He said that the commission was working on the installation of facilities in Gombe, adding “our stakeholders are determined to move into the biggest media markets in Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt in the nearest future”.
This, he said, was part of a nationwide rollout plan, including a definitive timeline for the switch-off of analogue transmission in Jos, Abuja, Ilorin, Kaduna, Enugu and Oshogbo.
“A new timetable will be released as soon as it is approved by the board of the commission,’’ the director-general said.
On the recent suspension of DAAR Communication, the NBC boss said that the leadership of the Nigeria Press Organisation had intervened in the matter.
“In the agreement, DAAR Communication is to furnish NBC with concrete and realistic proposal for the payment of its outstanding renewal licence fees for the national network broadcast for its radio and television stations.
“They shall take the necessary internal steps to ensure balance in their news coverage, especially political commentaries on it stations across the country.
“That DAAR Communications Plc shall take full editorial responsibility for the use of news contents sourced from social media and or any other avenue,” he said.
Modibbo-Kawu said that on the basis of the judgement, the commission had withdrawn the suspension notice issued to DAAR.
“We want to reiterate our full confidence in the Nigerian legal system and we urge DAAR Communications Plc to take necessary steps to abide by the terms of settlement,” he said. (NAN)