There is yet to be applause for the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in its decision to withdraw the operating license of 52 broadcast stations in the country including Ray Power Fm, as Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) described the action of NBC as draconian.
Newsonline reports that Nigeria Labour Congress (NBC) described the sanction as not only draconian but a deliberate act from the Federal government to hunt the press.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said while NBC has the right to regulate the broadcast stations and collect operating licenses as sources of revenue for the government, the government should be blamed for the bad business environment which is affecting all businesses including broadcast stations.
Wabba said, “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.
“The first natural instinct to the withdrawal of the operating license by the NBC is the idea that the affected media houses did not deliberately avoid paying for their operating licenses. Such would be akin to cutting so close to the bone.
“The most palpable reason for the failure of many of the media houses to pay for the renewal of their operating licenses could be easily found in the deteriorating economic conditions in Nigeria.
“This is understandable 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.”
He stated further, “Amidst these operational suffocations, 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. It is unthinkable that in the middle of very traumatic economic realities, the government would be thinking of flinging many Nigerians into the unemployment market. Well, this is not new.
” A few days ago, the Nigeria Governors Forum made a case for the mass sack of Nigerians in government employment. The unsolicited advice which had been robustly deflated by the NLC reveals a very embarrassing underbelly in the thinking of those commanding the reins of power in Nigeria today- crass insensitivity. This is very sad and unfortunate.
“In defence of the media, democratic and economic rights of Nigerians, we call on the NBC to rescind this decision to withdraw the operating licenses of the affected 53 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.
“Albeit, we just received with some relief new reasoning by the NBC to allow the affected media houses to continue to operate. This is commendable. Yet, our concerns conveyed in the foregoing subsist”.
The NLC backlash against the Federal government commission NBC is one among the different voices against the withdrawal of operating licenses of the 52 broadcast stations.
At present, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and body of editors, the Nigeria Guild of Editors have taken the Federal government to court to challenge the action of NBC.