RATTAWU urges NBC to rescind revocation of licences of 52 broadcast stations

The Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria has appealed to the National Broadcasting Commission to rescind the revocation of licences of 52 broadcast stations.

Akpausoh Akpausoh, General Secretary of the union, said this in a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja.

The NBC had on Friday revoked the licences of the AIT/Ray Power FM (DAAR Communication L.td., Silverbird TV Network and 50 other stations over N2.6 billion debts.

Akpausoh, however, described the action by the NBC as “untimely.”

He said, “Information is the oxygen of democracy. This truism has stood the test of time and in all climes. Therefore, Nigeria cannot be an exception.

“It is on the basis of the above that Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) has no other option, but to advise the NBC.

“The commission has the unreserved constitutional right to revoke the licences of Radio and Television stations that have not done the needful.

“However, the prevailing climate makes such an action untimely and fraught with grave consequences.

“This is because, most of these stations were yet to recover from the COVID-19 shock,” he said.

Akpausoh also recalled that during the lock-down, these stations were brave to sustain their services.

He said that RATTAWU had earlier made a case that the broadcast stations are given special COVID-19 palliative, considering the laudable roles they play in the society.

“Just after the lifting of the COVID-19 lock-down, there was an unexpected hike in the prices of diesel.

“Most of these stations rely on diesel to operate due to epileptic power supply from the DISCOS,” he added.

According to him, “this is an issue that is, at best, an unbecoming situation to the nation.

“From the foregoing, it is needless to say that the broadcast environment is not healthy and friendly.

“Therefore, decisions that affect the broadcast environment should be taken with absolute guidance and consideration.

“The action of NBC is unilateral. It is not a product of stakeholders of the broadcast industry. Therefore, it stands to be half clever,” he said.

The general secretary said that lack of payment of licence fees can never be tantamount to threat to national security.

He stated, “Rather, the contents of the broadcast stations were what would constitute threats to national security.”

“The Nigerian state is preparing for general elections by 2023.

“Therefore, revoking the licences of 52 stations and directing their total shutdown implies limiting the possibility of voter education and other electioneering activities.

“This portends great danger and disservice to the nation.

“The current security situation in the country requires that there is free flow of information as much as possible.

“This will help the citizens to give reports to the authorities and the authorities in return will tell the citizens what needs to be done,” he said.

He added shutting down the broadcast stations will not be good for the nation.

Akpausoh also said as a Trade Union Movement, RATTAWU was worried at the multiplier effects that the action of NBC would have on the workers.

“Shutting down media stations invariably leads to disengagements of workers, which results in an influx into the unemployed market and its attendant consequences.

“Therefore, any government organisation that means well for citizens will not do anything that will compound the situation.

“It is on the strength of the foregoing that RATTAWU, while urging the indebted stations to do the needful, also frowns at the action of NBC.

“RATTAWU therefore calls on NBC to call a stakeholders meeting where the issues would be discussed,” he said. (NAN)