MRA condemns withdrawal of licenses of AIT, Silverbird, others

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The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has condemned the revocation and withdrawal of the broadcast licenses of 52 broadcast stations across the country, including African Independent Television (AiT) and Silverbird television by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
In a statement in Lagos on Friday, the MRA described the action as ill-advised, insensitive and antithetical to the interests of the Nigerian public.
On Friday, the NBC announced the withdrawal of licenses of the 52 private and state government own broadcast broadcast for failing to pay their licenses fees.
However the MRA, in a statement signed by its Head of Legal Department, Obioma Okonkwo, maintained that by the revocation of the broadcast licenses of so many stations for alleged non-payment of their licence fees, the NBC was prioritizing its desire to make money off the broadcast stations over the interest of citizens.
According to the statement the action of the NBC is to deprive millions of Nigerians access to information as well as their rights and ability to freely express themselves through these stations.
“We are shocked by this naked display by the NBC of a lack of appreciation of its principal role which is to contribute to the emergence of a knowledge society. Rather, it has chosen to create an environment in which millions of Nigerians will wallow in ignorance, deprived of access to crucial information that they need to make critical decisions in their lives or to enhance their livelihoods.”
“The action of the NBC has only worsened the prevailing lopsidedness in the broadcasting landscape in Nigeria which was already dominated by government-owned broadcasting stations but is now under the monopolistic control of Federal Government-owned stations, which will be almost unchallenged, with the result that citizens will now be fed unmitigated propaganda by these remaining stations”, the statement said.
The statement noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had negatively impacted on the broadcasting stations as well as by the inability of the government to create a conducive environment for them to operate.
The MRA called on the NBC to reverse its decision in the public interest to avoid creating a society of ignorant citizens.
The statement also urged the NBC to liaise with the broadcasting stations to identify the challenges facing the industry and come up with realistic solutions to the identified challenges.

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