Stakeholders strategise for smooth take-off of community radio stations
FOR the 17 newly licensed community radio stations, the celebration should, by now, be over. The task before the licensees is the timely take-off as well as the effective interpretation of the essence of community radio broadcasting as enshrined in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
Director-General, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr. Emeka Mba hammered this point Tuesday, last week in Abuja at the meeting of community broadcast stakeholders to mark the commencement of community broadcasting in the country.
Specifically, Emeka referenced Chapter 9 of the fifth edition of the Broadcasting Code which provides detail guidelines and information on the modus operandi of community broadcast stations and cited section 9.0.1 that differentiates community broadcasting from the other tiers of broadcasting. He quoted the section thus:
“Community broadcasting recognized by the African Charter on Broadcasting as the third tier of broadcasting, is a key agent of democratization for socio-cultural, educational and economic development. It is a non-profit, grassroots public broadcast service medium, through which community members are able to contribute and foster civic responsibilities and integration.”
According to Mba, community radio is a tool for development as “it gives voice to the otherwise disadvantaged sections of the population.” He praised President Goodluck Jonathan for getting “this tier of broadcasting on board, a most laudable development in the broadcast industry in Nigeria. Stakeholders will be forever grateful to Mr. President.”
He noted that all the 17 communities that will host the new radio stations satisfy the basic condition for granting the licences.
“Communities by this tier of broadcasting will include a local, non-for-profit organization; an educational institution (campus); a cultural association; a co-operative society and a partnership of associations. A community broadcasting service is owned and controlled by the community through a trusteeship or a foundation with a Board of Trustees” he cited relevant section of the Code.
In what appeared like chronicling efforts by the stakeholders under the auspices of the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC) that championed the establishment of this grassroots radio stations in the last 12 years, the NBC boss said, “Since the liberalization of the broadcast sector in early 1990s, the absence of Community Broadcasting has been a major deficit even in the democratization process. Seeing global developments, the NBC has for many years, provided for community broadcasting in its regulatory materials, in anticipation of approval at the highest level of government. The NBC was involved in the policy development process which the government put in place in 2006 and later years.
“With the assumption of office of a new leadership in the Commission (in May 2013) came a rise in the tempo and dynamics of engagement with the government, towards achieving the approval of Community Radio as a third tier of broadcasting as stipulated in the African Charter on Broadcasting. The approval of this first set of licences has come at a very important moment in Nigerian history,” Mba said.
Before now, he clarified, “campus broadcasting has existed in some of our institutions. However, these newly licensed community broadcast stations are the first set of non-educational community broadcast stations in Nigeria. I consider you highly privileged and I am optimistic that this privilege will not be misused,” he charged the licensees who were also present at the meeting as well as top officials of the NCRC.
Government, Mba insisted, “expects that licensed communities will put the licences to use in a responsible manner, by strictly using them as tools of development at the grassroots. It is hoped that the radio stations will be used to inform and educate the people in such areas of development as health, education, agriculture, cultural orientation and peace building, among others. The Commission will work with the various stakeholders to ensure the timely take-off and operation of the stations. Responding on behalf of the licensees and the NCRC, Mr. Akin Akingbulu commended the decision to take care of every geopolitical zone in the distribution of the licences. He said this spirit should be encouraged in the subsequent approval while noting, “licences should continue to be given to communities that are qualified and expressed the need for it.”
Akingbulu vouched for the capacity and capability of the licensees saying that they have established appropriate corporate structure and management organ using the principle of participation and reflecting diversity within their respective communities.
In addition to assisting some of the communities to perfecting the documentation processes, Akingbulu said the leadership of the NCRC has mapped out orientation activities to help timely take-off of the new stations.
The breakdown of the 17 communities that got the licences indicates South West having four; while North East has only one. The rest of North West, North Central, South East and South South got three stations each. The licensees in the North-West are Dawanau Market Development Association, Dawakin-Tofa LGA, Kano State; Bayintrung Community Development Association, Zango-Kataf LGA, Kaduna State; and Bright Capacity Initiatives Comm. Enhancement, Gwandu, Kebbi State.
In North-Central, the beneficiaries are Agba Community Radio Initiative, Oju LGA, Benue State; Isin Community Radio Initiative, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State; and Lavun Radio Awareness Initiative, Kutigi, Niger State.
Only Gelengu Community Development Association, Balanga LGA, Gombe State got the licence in the North East.
South East: Owerre-Nkwoji Town Union, Nkwerre LGA, Imo State; Uroshi Community Association, Igbo Eze North LGA, Enugu State; and Michael Okpara University, Umudike, Abia State.
South West: EjuleNen Development Association, Okitipupa LGA, Ondo State; Iwoye-Ketu Community Development Association, Imeko/Afon LGA, Ogun State; Ekimogun Community Foundation, Ondo State; Integrated Community Initiative Centre, Ogijo, Ogun State.
South South: Feefeelo Information and Resource Centre, Gokana LGA, Rivers State; Amassoma Information and Resource Centre, Southern Ijaw LGA, Bayelsa State; Otuoke Community, Ogbia LGA, Bayelsa State.
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