Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has condemned the revocation and withdrawal of the broadcast licenses of 52 broadcast stations across Nigeria by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), describing the action as ill-advised, insensitive and antithetical to the interests of the Nigerian public.
In a statement by the head of its legal department, Ms. Obioma Okonkwo, MRA said the NBC was prioritizing its desire to make money off the broadcasters over the interests of citizens, as the ultimate effect of its action is to deprive millions of Nigerians access to information as well as their rights and ability to freely express themselves through these stations.
Ms. Okonkwo said NBC has chosen to create an environment in which millions of Nigerians will wallow in ignorance since they will be deprived of access to crucial information that they need to make critical decisions in their lives or to enhance their livelihoods.
She contended that the revocation was primarily intended to grant licenses to government-owned broadcasting stations in order to feed citizens unfiltered propaganda.
Ms. Obioma accused the NBC of being insensitive to the harsh economic environment under which the broadcast stations have operated over the last two and a half years as the national economy has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic itself and the measures taken by the government in response to the pandemic.
She noted that the broadcasting stations are also negatively impacted by the inability of the government to create a conducive environment for them to operate, such as providing appropriate infrastructure like electricity supply, adding that with the stations having to find alternative sources of power supply even as the price of diesel continues to skyrocket daily, they are simply struggling to survive.
Ms. Obioma called on the NBC to reverse its decision in the public interest to avoid creating a society of predominantly ignorant citizens, advising that the need to ensure that Nigerians are adequately informed through the media should supersede any other consideration by the NBC.
She advised the commission to liaise with the broadcasting stations to identify the challenges facing the industry and come up with realistic solutions to those challenges.