THE Federal Government of Nigeria has approved 60 per cent debt relief for all debtor broadcast stations in the country to ease the effects of COVID-19 on the industry.
At a media briefing on Monday in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed noted that the broadcast industry had been particularly hard-hit due to falling revenues occasioned by the dwindling adverts and sponsored programmes in the wake of the pandemic.
He disclosed that many Nigerian radio and television stations remained indebted to the government up to the tune of N7. 8 billion while many of them were faced with the reality that their licenses would not be renewed in view of their indebtedness.
According to him, it is against this background that “the management of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has recommended, and the Federal Government has accepted 60 per cent debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations in the country.”
He said the criterion for enjoying the debt forgiveness was for debtor stations to pay 40 per cent of their existing debt within the next three months.
Mohammed explained that a station that is fails to pay the balance of 40 per cent indebtedness within the three months window shall forfeit the opportunity to enjoy the stated debt forgiveness.
The minister said the government also approved that the existing license fee of the broadcast stations be further discounted by 30 per cent for all Open Terrestrial Radio and Television services effective July 10.
He said the debt forgiveness would apply to functional licensed Terrestrial Radio and Television stations only.
“The debt relief and discount shall not apply to pay TV service operators in Nigeria and that effective date of the debt forgiveness shall be July 10 to October 6th, 2020.”
Mohammed said the measures were in addition to the two-month licence-fee waiver granted to terrestrial broadcast stations in the country by the NBC, as part of efforts to ease the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He assured 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.”
The acting Director-General of NBC Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, said the commission is carrying out holistic review of the broadcast sector as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Idachaba, who was also at the briefing, said the government would enforce the Pay as You Go directive to the Pay-Tv because it was in the interest of all.