EXCLUSIVE: National Broadcasting Corporation CEO Ilelah decides to use license fees for gag media organizations
National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Director General Balarabe Ilelah has devised plans to crack down on broadcasters perceived to be anti-government, using the cover of their non-payment of royalties, SaharaReporters gathered .
Inside sources said Ilelah ordered an underground task force to compile a list of media organizations whose content and coverage criticizes Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
They added that an internal team was also tasked with compiling the unpaid financial obligations of NBC licensees.
NBC in November gave its licensees a deadline of December 20, 2021 to repay their debts or risk sanctions that may include closure.
“We have been asked to identify which radio and television stations owe license and operating fees, it is almost routine since these organizations, under the terms of their licenses, are expected to pay these amounts. . It’s not something harmful, âone of the agency’s sources said.
âBut we have learned that there is an outside list that the GM has ordered. This is a list of those stations that attack the government, broadcast negative content, or invite anti-government panelists to their programs.
âWe don’t know the identity of those who compiled this list, but we do know that it was outsourced. This is something that could have been done internally from our follow-up, but there must be a reason the CEO has outsourced it.
Another employee of the organization expressed concern about the plan’s implication on its integrity, saying that if implemented it could compromise the committee’s ability to collect fees owed by news houses. in the future.
He said: âIt is highly likely that the closure of broadcasting houses due to unpaid license and operating fees will be interpreted as a crackdown on these companies. You can imagine how outraged Nigerians and the world community would be when it was discovered that these shut down radio and TV stations were the ones that criticized the government.
âIn the future, any organization that does not want to pay its fees will just start attacking the government of the day and they will automatically be immune from paying. If only the CEO looks inward and out to the group of staff who have institutional memory, then he can save the Commission from this impending embarrassment. “
Human rights groups and non-governmental organizations have criticized the intended use of unpaid fees as a basis for shutting down media organizations perceived to be anti-government, saying this reflects an escalation of attacks on the free press in Nigeria.
Last month, Dapo Olorunyomi, a veteran media practitioner and editor of Premium Times, called for the 6th NBC code changes to be withdrawn on the grounds that Ilelah was behind the looming media crackdown.
Olorunyomi said that the tirades against the media by President Buhari’s incumbent government are incredibly worse than what was endured during the days of the brutal military government which, again, featured Buhari, especially with the notoriety of the Decree 4 of 1984 which has impacted a most unpleasant experience on the psyche of the media as well as the rest of the citizens to this day.