The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described the National Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC) revocation of 52 broadcast station licences as hasty.
A statement by the NUJ on Friday faulted the move, saying it is ill-timed.
“The decision today by the industry regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission – NBC, to revoke the licenses of 52 broadcast stations nationwide over indebtedness to the Commission was ill-advised,” NUJ chief, National President, Chris Isiguzo, said in a statement.
“The affected stations, according to NBC are said to owe arrears of licence fees amounting to N2.6 billion since 2015.
“Although the Director General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah claimed that this development had no political motives, we insist that the action was ill-timed and reckless.
“It should be noted that this wholesale revocation of licences at this critical time of insecurity in the Country appears to be a decision taken without careful prior deliberation, consultation, or counsel.”
The NUJ believes in the face of economic hardship, the”large scale clampdown of broadcast stations in disregard to security issues and the attendant consequence. We cannot afford the unpleasant outcome of such a media blackout at this time.”
“We call on NBC to exercise more restraint on this issue in consideration of national security and allow for more dialogue and consultation to find a better way of dealing with the situation,” the union added.
Earlier in the day, NBC sanctioned the stations, citing their inability to renew their licences.
The broadcast regulator gave the affected media outlets “24 hours to shut down their operations” and also directed its offices across the country to “collaborate with security agencies to ensure immediate compliance”.
“In view of this development, the continued operation of the debtor stations is illegal and constitutes a threat to national security,” NBC added, noting that the second tranche of defaulters will soon be released.