TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE HON MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, ON THE INTERVENTIONS BY THE FG TO ENSURE FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY AMONG BROADCAST STATIONS IN THE COUNTRY….IN ABUJA ON MONDAY, JULY 6TH 2020
Good afternoon gentlemen and welcome to this press conference, which we have called to announce a number of measures aimed at instituting financial sustainability among broadcast stations in the country.
2. As you know, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of the nation’s economy. The Broadcast Industry has been particularly hard-hit due to falling revenues occasioned by the dwindling adverts and sponsored programmes, in the wake of the pandemic.
3. Indeed, on 6 May 2020, I received the officials and other representatives of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), who made a comprehensive presentation on the effects of the pandemic on the industry and sought critical interventions by Federal and State Governments.
4. Gentlemen, the Post-Covid-19 Initiatives Committee for the Creative Industry, which we set up to help mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on the Creative Industry as a whole, has submitted its report, which contained recommendations that will benefit all component parts of the larger Creative Industry.
5. However, without prejudice to those recommendations, I want to announce today a number of Broadcast Industry-specific measures aimed at giving a lifeline to the industry which, though largely a business, continues to function as a critical social service of sorts, which is relevant to the information and enlightenment needs of the people.
These measures are 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 on the Broadcast Industry.
6. According to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), many Nigerian radio and television stations remain indebted to the Federal government to the tune of 7. 8 billion Naira in total. Also, many of the stations are faced with the reality that their licenses will not be renewed, in view of their indebtedness.
7. Against this background, the management of the NBC has therefore recommended, and the Federal Government has accepted, the following measures to revamp the Broadcast Industry and to help reposition it for the challenges of business, post-Covid-19:-
a) – 60 percent debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations in the country.
b)◦ The criterion for enjoying the debt forgiveness is for debtor stations to pay 40 percent of their existing debt within the next 3 months
c) – Any station that is unable to pay the balance of 40 percent indebtedness within the 3 months window shall forfeit the opportunity to enjoy the stated debt forgiveness.
d) – The existing license fee is further discounted by 30 per cent for all Open Terrestrial Radio and Television services effective July 10th, 2020
e) – The debt forgiveness shall apply to functional licensed Terrestrial Radio and Television stations only
f) – The debt forgiveness and discount shall not apply to pay TV service operators in Nigeria.
g) – The effective date of the debt forgiveness shall be July 10th 2020 to October 6th, 2020
8. 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.
9. I thank you all for your kind attention. I will now take your questions, strictly on the newly-announced measures.