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NBC Radio Frequency

Shut down of FM Radio stations looms as many may not meet licence renewal terms

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Unless defaulting FM Radio stations effect necessary reconfigurations on their transmitter powers and other technical infractions, the regulator, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is set to deny their licence renewal which had been well long overdue.

This was made public by the Secretary of the NBC board, Ms. Alheri Saidu during a recent stakeholders’ forum in Lagos.

Business Hilights recalls that in line with section 1 of the third schedule of the Act, “a broadcast licence shall be valid for a period of five years in the first instance,” it is not permanent.

In her presentation bordering on ‘Some salient issues on the broadcast licence,’ Saidu said “After five years a licence cease to be legal unless renewed. By the provision of section 2 of the same schedule, “an application for the renewal of a licence shall be made to the Commission within a period of six months before the expiration of the licence”.

In addition by the provisions of section 2.6.1, of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, “The renewal of the licence is not automatic but subject to the renewal process and fulfillment of the conditions as may be prescribed by the Commission.”

Earlier in his keynote address, the Director general of the Commission, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, decried that well over 89 stations are yet to renew their licences and that many of them had contravened key technical provisions of the licencing terms and conditions.

Explaining further, Saidu, a lawyer noted that “In considering an application for the renewal of a licence, the Commission shall review among others the: Past conduct of the licensee; b. breach profile and level of adherence to rules and regulations by the licensee; c. local content profile of the licensee; d. evidence of compliance with the levies   and fines”.

Others conditions that must be met to renew radio broadcast licence, according to Saidu, include proof of regular submission of annual audited account; Evidence of regular payment of staff remuneration and allowances; Evidence of compliance with the terms of the licence.

She averred that “In considering the renewal of a broadcast licence the Commission may by the provision of section 2.8 conduct a public hearing within the coverage area of the broadcaster to enable the Commission determine: a. the level of compliances with the provisions of the NBC Act, the Code and other rules and regulations made by the Commission from time to time”.

NBC will also, subject to approval of renewal, determine amongst other, the extent to which the licence has benefitted the people on whose behalf it is held; and the appropriateness or otherwise of its renewal.

“It must be emphasized that, in the cause of the renewal of a broadcast licence, the Commission may change the conditions of a licence.

“However, taking into consideration the above provisions the Commission may not renew a licence if, having regard to the past performance of the station, it is not in the national or public interest of the broadcasting industry to do so.” per section 5 of the 3rd schedule.

On issues concerning frequency area delineation, NBC took the attention of Radio broadcast stakeholders to Section 2(1) (o) of the Act which states that; the Commission shall the power of

“Approving the transmitter power, the location of stations, areas of coverage as well as regulate types of broadcast equipment to be used;”

To this end Section 13 provides that, “the Commission shall have power with respect to any licence granted under Section 9 of this Act; (a) to allocate to a licensed station, that is ( i) in the case of a radio station, Frequency Modulation, Medium wave and Short wave ( ii )in the case of television, Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF), ( iii ) such other broadcast frequencies as the Commission may from time to time determine.

To meet other conditions for licence renewal, NBC will also approve the location of a station; to regulate the technical specification of equipment and standard of transmission; to approve the call signal of a station; to approve the area to be served by a station.

Saidu also noted that “In addition, section 12.3.1 of the code provides that, “a broadcaster shall not commence installation of new, fallen, or relocate mast/tower without prior approval of the Commission”.

“Also by section 12.3.2, No changes shall be made to the following without the approval of the Commission in such technical issues including transmitter power; Antenna gain and polarisation; mast height; transmitter location; and RF distribution or antenna radiation pattern.

“And for the coverage area section 12.4.1 provides that, “a broadcaster shall limit itself to only the coverage area as prescribed by the conditions of its licence, namely for;” a. FM Radio; coverage area for an FM station shall be city based; b. Television; coverage area for a television station shall be city based.

She argued that “It must be noted that once the location of a station, area of coverage and other conditions of the licence have been approved by the Commission no change will be effected without the approval of the Commission, per Section 5 of the third schedule,…..the licensed station; “shall not be changed without notifying the Commission of the intention and the reasons for such change.”

By the authority provided in section13 (2), the Commission, “shall have the power to enter into the premises of any station and inspect or examine any apparatus of operation in the station in order to ascertain their conformity with the provisions of this Act,” Ms. Alheri Saidu quoted the NBC Act.


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