The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has revoked the licenses of 54 broadcast stations.
The affected stations were issued licenses but had refused to pay their fees within the mandatory 60-day window.
The Director General of NBC, Is-haq Modibbo, said more licenses of both private and public stations who have so far failed to pay-up their license fees to the commission would be revoked.
Modibbo, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday said the NBC had given all stations which owed the commission over N5 billion till the end of March 2017 to pay up or be sanctioned.
He said: “Over the past two weeks, I gave directive that the licenses of 54 companies that were issued licenses but had refused to pay their fees within the mandatory 60-day window be revoked.
“Those licenses are revoked! There is another list of over 120 licenses that were paid within the mandatory period but were unable to come on air, within the mandatory two years; they are also being processed for revocation. And they will be revoked! Frequencies cannot be held indefinitely by individuals.
“At our stakeholders’ conference with broadcast organizations, I had informed stations of a persistent pattern of refusal to pay license fees. Stations around Nigeria owe the NBC over N5 billion. Even the statutory act of informing NBC, six months before expiration of licenses and signification of intention to continue as licensees is wilfully ignored by stations.
“License fees are in arrears; there is no plan by many of these stations to pay; while some even have the temerity to write NBC, the regulatory institution, that the amount they are obliged to pay is too much, consequently, they then tell us how much they are willing to pay, and even adding the time they are going to pay such sums that they have decided to pay.”
He warned that cases where some private station owners use political connections with the top most political leadership the country in the past to get illegal and undue favours that run contrary to the NBC Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code would no longer be condoned.
“We are delighted that Nigerians are investing in setting up radio and television stations; they create jobs; open up accesses for content producers to showcase talents and are contributing to national development. But no one has a right to hold on to allocated frequencies indefinitely, when the resource itself is finite and there are other people waiting and ready to make use of those frequencies,” he said.
He said June 2017 deadline remained sacrosanct on Digital Switch Over (DSO).
“The next phase is our plan for the six states that we have chosen to switch on. As I address you today, Pinnacle Communications Limited has commenced the installation of the facilities for Kaduna. I was there to inspect the work being done at the weekend.
“Our colleagues can go to the site on Rabah Road, in Kaduna to verify that work is advancing very rapidly there. They have also concluded plans for Delta and Gombe states, while the second signal distributor, ITS, will similarly mobilize into Kwara, Enugu and Osun states,” he added.