SPEECH BY THE Ag. DG, NBC, PROF. ARMSTRONG IDACHABA, AT COMMISSION'S HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA11th August, 2020
SPEECH BY THE Ag. DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION, PROF. ARMSTRONG IDACHABA, AT THE PRESS BRIEFING HELD ON WEDNESDAY, May 27, 2020, AT THE COMMISSION’S HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA.
I want to welcome you all to this press briefing this afternoon and to thank you for accepting to attend even at this very challenging period in our nation’s history. We salute the press for their very positive role to the society and as a valuable partner for National development, we thank you for your contribution and commitment to the progress of our nation.
Here in the Commission, we have been very active. Within this Covid-19 period, NBC has had a series of interventions as a regulatory body in the Broadcast Industry. The Board of Management of the Commission, at the inception of this pandemic, went around to sensitize and encourage Broadcasting Stations to be proactive and ethically correct in their coverage and reportage of the pandemic. The Board also used the opportunity to appeal to Broadcasters to be mindful of their safety. Also, critically, used the visits to assess the level of their preparedness to engage the series of activities and responses that the media would be confronted with. That tour, we must admit, served as a necessary boost in terms of stimulating the activities amongst the broadcast stations. It largely contributed to the interventions that we have witnessed so far.
As part of the Commission’s Corporate Social Responsibility and in appreciation of the strategic role of the media in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission donated protective/Preventive items to some broadcasting stations for staff on Essential Duty during Lockdown. The support was provided to Community Broadcasting stations who cater to the grass-root. It is hoped that the items would help kit broadcast operatives adequately against the deadly virus as they remain in the field to provide updates on the pandemic. We, therefore, use this opportunity to remind broadcasters of the need to be mindful of their safety.
The NBC facilitated the distribution of enlightenment jingles in the local Language were provided for airing by broadcasting stations to further educate the communities. These are still running in those stations.
You may recall that the Commission had instructed Direct-To-Home Pay-TV operators in the country to decrypt all local television channels on their platforms to enable subscribers to receive, unhindered, signals of these channels which, daily, contains an update on the Covid-19 pandemic. In response, also to the efforts of Broadcasting Stations, the Honourable Minister of Information early this month, approved the Commission to grant its licensees two (months) license fees waver. The Commission has fully complied.
REFORM OF THE NBC
Let me bring up to speed on the implementation of the NBC Reform approved by Mr President. The Commission, following the recommendation of the Committee on the Reform of the National Broadcasting Commission, and consequent approval of President Muhammadu, GCFR, the Board and Management of the NBC conducted a public presentation of the Amendment of the 6th edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to stakeholders, including BON, NUJ, Electronic Media Content Producers, the Academia and other key stakeholders in the Broadcasting Industry, at L’eola Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The Amendments make provisions for Local contents in the Broadcast Industry. It also makes provisions for increased advertising revenue for local broadcast stations and content producers. It creates restrictions for monopolistic and anti-competitive behaviour in the broadcast Industry. It further makes provisions for responsibility for broadcast stations during National emergencies.
I am glad that the work is ready now, and the Commission has published the provisions of the Amendment of the Code.
The Commission is also considering a new licence fee regime and Broadcast signal distributor carriage fees for the DTT operators. The new Rates would affect National Free-view DTT; Regional Free-View DTT; Local Free-view DTT. The Committee expects all licensed DTT operators to commence payment of the new fees, which are lower than the fees in the analogue era.
Similarly, I wish to inform you that the Commission, has released the quarterly profile of broadcasting stations that contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code for the 1st Quarter, 2020. Twenty-Eight (28) Broadcasting Stations violated Areas of the Code dealing with Obscenity, Political Breaches, Hate speech, unprofessionalism, unverifiable claims, advertisement, and technical. All the stations have been, either queried or sanctioned, accordingly, to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. Summary of the report would be made available to you and placed on our various online platforms including our social media handles.
On the Coverage and reportage of Covid-19, three Broadcasting Stations were specifically sanctioned for violating the Code for unverifiable claims and lack of professionalism.
The Commission wishes to, again, re-emphasise that all broadcasters must adhere strictly to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the National Broadcasting Act CAP N11 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
I must also tell you that very important progressive steps are being taken for the actualization of the Digital Switchover. There have been several Online meetings with various players and stakeholders in the Digital ecosystem. We have concluded plans for a new timeline, indicating new cities where we are moving to and the details will be released once the lockdown is eased.
Finally, on behalf of the Board and Management and Staff of the Commission, I want to appreciate the very patriotic role of the Federal Government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, in addressing the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge the various interventions, especially with the setting-up of the Presidential taskforce, which our Honourable Minister, Alh. Lai Muhammed, the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, is a member, and the key function they play in, daily, updating and guiding the public on the dos and don’ts to stay protected.
We thank the Media for rising to the challenge of National service.