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Private broadcasting has brought multiplicity of choices, says Ag NBC DG

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Acting DG Armstrong Idachaba


Twenty-nine years after deregulation of the broadcast industry, the Acting Director-General National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Prof. Aduku Armstrong Idachaba, recently x-rayed the sector and concluded that private broadcasting is now the mainstream broadcasting model, which has brought multiplicity of choices, introduced competition and widened growth of the industry. 

Years after independence, government had enjoyed monopoly of broadcast industry until 1992, when the General Ibrahim Babangida administration embraced the much clamoured deregulation and privatisation of the electronic media.

Speaking at the 5th anniversary of Sweet FM, Abeokuta, Ogun State recently, Prof. Idachaba disclosed that the category of broadcast licence given by the NBC had widened from the mere radio and television licence to over 13 categories of broadcast licence as at 2020 namely Satellite Broadcast Subscription DTH (Audio and Video), Cable Television Subscription, Community (Radio and Television), Networking (Radio and Television), FM Radio Broadcasting, Internet Broadcasting, Digital Multimedia content Aggregation (Video, Audio or interactive media Services), Broadcast signal Distribution, Digital Terrestrial ( free-Tv-Air) TV, Direct Channel or content broadcast( satellite, Digital Terrestrial Television or Over the Top), Mobile/Handheld(DVB-H) and Digital Terrestrial Television.

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Dwelling on the theme, ‘Private Broadcasting: Its Impact On National Development’, he noted that broadcasting has evolved from British colonial re-diffusion centre of 1937 through Federal and state government-controlled enterprise to a dynamic industry with strong private participation, which permeate homes not only through tube and boxes, but portable devices enabled by the coming of mobile phones and the Internet.

Economically, he observed that private broadcasting has contributed greatly to the growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Making reference to data from statista.com, he said the motion and music industry have contributed some 1.2 trillion naira to Nigerian GDP in 2016.

In a socio- economic impact assessment of Mutichoice conducted on its behalf by a consulting firm, Accenture, “the company is believed to have contributed an estimated $2.1 billion between 2015 and 2019 to the Nigerian economy. This includes entrepreneurship and investment opportunities through channels on its platform, investment in growth of the sports, technology, film and video sectors through infrastructural development. The large numbers of private radio and television stations have invested much to the economy.”

In the area of capacity development, he said that deregulation also saw a lot of mobility with staff of existing government owned stations moving to the newly established private stations.

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The industry, he explained, provided opportunities for new entrants who had to be trained in the course of their engagement. “Interestingly too the new stations were partnering with international media for training of their staff. Degue Broadcasting Network (DBN) became the first private television in Nigeria with a provisional licence on UHF 32, issued in 1992, although now defunct. Osa Sunny Adum, the chief executive officer and chairman of the network said the company was one of the first to send its staff to South Africa, Singapore and the United states for training.

The privatisation of broadcasting has also led to a major boost in employment creation in the industry especially for young creative, talented and skilled entrepreneurs and technicians.

“With the Digital transition going full stream, it is expected that over 300,00 jobs will be created.”

Continuing, he added that private broadcasting has also encouraged local content development. 

According to him, “key among the regulatory activities of the NBC for the broadcast sector was to set a local content quota of a minimum 60 per cent for all licences. This has served to impact on content development and human capital development.

“Much of the growth seen in the Nigerian music industry and Nollywood was orchestrated by the emergence of private broadcasting in Nigeria.

“Similarly, family belt rule which requires that only local content can be aired between the hours of 7pm to 10pm also spiked the introduction of local soaps to television screen.”

Conclusively, despite the successes recorded by private broadcasting, he identified challenges such as the recruitment of half baked, non-qualified professionals, over personalisation of the broadcast stations leading to irrational and unwise management of the broadcast outfit, the politicisation of the broadcast stations where professionalism is cast away for interest of the owner.

According to him, “indiscipline is a dangerous scourge now with half-hearted broadcasters, lazy in research, leading to unguided reliance on social media, refusal to learn, highly intemperate and totally insensitive to the feelings of others — some totally discourteous.

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“Many becoming drawn to the mob-promoting hatred and violence rather than be gatekeepers for national development, financial indiscipline leading to huge bills of unpaid salaries and wages. The attitude to research and data is generally appalling. If we deal with these issues, we certainly will have a great broadcast industry in Nigeria.”

In his address, CEO, Lucinda Media, owners of Sweet FM, Sen. Olugbenga Obadara said the station is Nigeria’s first leadership entrepreneurship radio station, which clocked five in February 2021.

Sweet FM, he stressed, has given platform to youths, men and women in the country and students on industrial training, the opportunity to develop their skills in the broadcast industry. 

“My desire to contribute my little quota in addressing the issue of unemployment among our country’s army of young men and women fuel the drive for Sweet FM. My goal is also to help develop the entrepreneurship skills of the people of people of Nigeria and provide jobs to the teeming youth of our nation,” he said.

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