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Why FG may not grant BON’s request for moratorium

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• Broadcast Stations Owe N7b Licence Fees To NBC

Indications have emerged that the Federal Government may not grant one-year moratorium request being sought for, by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) for the industry to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

A credible source told The Guardian that instead of granting a one-year moratorium, the government was initiating a reform, which would be far-reaching and might lead to a downward review of licence fees. 

“BON might not get exactly what it is looking for. The government wants to initiate a reform that will make the broadcast industry more efficient, ” the source said. 

The Guardian learnt that Nigeria has 700 broadcast stations and these stations owe the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over N7b licence fees. The Federal government had, on May 6, 2020, announced a two-month licence fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations. 

However, the Vice Chairman of BON and CEO, Multimesh Broadcasting Company, Mr. Godfrey Ohuabunwa told The Guardian the two-month waiver would not make much impact on the industry, as over N100b revenue and jobs had been lost in the industry, due to COVID-19.It was gathered that the two-month waiver cost the Federal Government about N70m, while the one-year moratorium being asked for, would be N420m. 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the Federal Government was looking into BON’s one-year moratorium request. 

Also, acting Director General of NBC, Prof Armstrong Idachaba, said: “We gave a waiver to all open terrestrial stations, and didn’t factor in Pay TV because even during the lockdown, they were still getting money for a subscription.  We have about 700 broadcast stations and the two- month waiver will be about N100, 000 for each broadcast station. It is huge… One-year moratorium will be massive. I wonder if the government will be willing to do that. 

“We are trying to get support through the Federal Government’s post-COVID-19 infrastructural intervention for the creative industry. “A lot of players in the industry have said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is offering some form of intervention. TÍhat is one way we encourage broadcasters to see if they can get an intervention…” 

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