In line with the Nigerian government’s efforts to save the broadcast industry from collapse, the apex regulator of the industry, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has moved to curtail the issue of advertising debts owed broadcast stations.
Recall that recently, the federal government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), issued a Global Standing Instruction (GSI) which authorised commercial banks to withdraw loan defaults from other accounts operated by their customers. The move, the CBN said, was to save the commercial banks from imminent collapse arising from huge debts from customers.
The broadcast industry is about to witness the same thing as the federal government has issued an amended Broadcast Code which prohibits backlogs of advertising debts. In the past, it was a common practice for advertisers to accumulate debts at a broadcast station and then move to advertise in other stations without settling the accumulated debts.
Speaking at the unveiling of the amended 6th edition of the National Broadcasting Code, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, disclosed that the move was meant to save the broadcast industry from imminent collapse.
“There is an urgent need to help the broadcast stations. Of course, if there are backlogs of debts owed them, there is no way they are going to fulfill their financial obligations to the NBC. Henceforth, it is going to be difficult to accumulate debts at a particular broadcast station and then move to incur debts elsewhere without paying the accumulated debts. Government has a duty to regulate and also ensure the sustainability of the industry,” he said.
The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, who spoke in the same vein, opined that government effort, through the NBC, was critical to ensure the sustainability of the broadcast industry. A pointer to this was the 2-month waiver on renewal of licence fees granted terrestrial broadcast stations in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
“Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the broadcast stations in Nigeria have been at the top of their game. They were under severe pressure as adverts were not coming. We had no choice than to empathise with them by offering them a grace period of two months to pay their licence renewal fees. We also gave palliatives to some broadcast stations to help cushion the effect of the pandemic. However, the more holistic approach is to ensure that business for broadcast stations is sustainable and that is what the amendment in the 6th Broadcast code bordering on advertising debts takes care of,” he said.
The 6th edition of the Broadcast Code was launched in July, 2019 in Kano. The amendment to the 6th edition was necessitated by a presidential directive in the wake of the 2019 presidential election.