The Federal Government may shut down the 106 radio and television stations in the country over indebtedness.
The National Broadcasting Commission, which issued the threat on behalf of the Federal Government, accused the stations of owing the commission the sum of N4,517,535,961.
The Head of Public Affairs in the commission, Mrs. Maimuna Jimada, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Friday, said the commission has notified the affected radio and television stations.
She, however, refused to release the names of the indebted stations.
Jimada said that the affected stations were given three weeks to pay their debts, adding that the three-week notice was issued on February 23, 2017.
She recalled, “At a press conference held on Thursday, February 23, 2017 in the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the DG gave debtor stations three weeks to pay up or face sanctions.
“The only action the NBC has taken regarding outstanding licence fees was to give all stations owing the commission a deadline to pay or be shut down, the deadline has since passed but the commission has not gone ahead to shut down any station yet.”
Asked if the commission would go ahead to shut down the affected stations, she said yes, adding that “you will agree with me that a three-week deadline had expired since February 23, 2017.”
Jimada also commented on the allegations by the management of Daar Communications, owners of Africa Independent Television and Raypower FM, that the commission was witch-hunting it for not showing loyalty to the incumbent administration.
Besides faulting the claim by the commission that Raypower exceeded its transmitting band of 100.5MHz, the company alleged that the broadcast regulatory body had unleashed a fresh onslaught against it in the manner it did in 2015, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari was elected.
The Group Managing Director of the company, Mr. Tony Akiotu, who briefed journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, had said the company “was invited several times by the commission to either drop some presenters or decimate/tone down the vibrancy of the programme.”
He alleged that the media organisation was intimidated, adding that every attempt had been made to muzzle and stifle its constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.
The NBC had accused the media organisation of “exceeding the allowed band occupancy limit”, from 100.3MHz to 100.6MHz.
The NBC, in its letter dated July 9, 2018, and signed by the Acting Secretary of the commission, Alheri Saidu, had imposed a fine of N1 million on the station for “the breach of the terna of the FM Radio Licence granted to your company.”
Saidu also directed the company to “correct over modulation frequency and limit the band occupy of its transmission to the maximum frequency.”
The NBC had recently slammed the media house over its programme on politics, ‘Political Platform, for “persistent and flagrant infringement on the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code on your programme.”
The commission later fined the company N500,000 and N1m for the two offences, which it paid.