Friday, September 30, 2022

MRA drags NBC to court over refusal to disclose debts owed by broadcasting stations 

The suit was preceded by NBC’s now-suspended revocation of licences of about 52 television and radio stations said to be indebted to the commission.

• September 19, 2022
Media Rights Agenda (MRA), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has instituted a Freedom of Information (FOI) suit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over its refusal to disclose the licence fees and status of payment for broadcasting stations across the nation.

Naming NBC and Attorney-General of the Federation as respondents, the suit prayed the Lagos division of the Federal High Court to declare NBC’s refusal to provide the information requested as “a violation of the organization’s rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the FOI Act.”

The suit was preceded by NBC’s now-suspended revocation of licences of about 52 television and radio stations said to be indebted to the commission.

The revocation, announced in August, had sparked outrage and validated concerns that the government was attempting to gag the media.

The Rights Agenda sought “an order directing the NBC to disclose or make available to MRA a list of all broadcasting stations and platforms operating in Nigeria licensed by the Commission; the amount that each of them is required to pay as license fees; the status of payment of each of the station from the date of its license to August 22, 2022,” reads a part of the suit filed by Alimi Adamu, Obioma Okonkwo, Monday Arunsi and Ms Opeyemi Yakubu, all lawyers of the MRA.

This includes “licensed broadcasting stations that are owing, the amount of indebtedness and the period covered by the amount; and for broadcasting corporations owned by various State Governments included in the list of the broadcasting stations whose broadcast licenses were revoked by the Commission as announced by its Director-General in his press briefing on August 19, 2022,” the suit added.

The Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) as well as Labour leader, Ayuba Wabba were among the strongest voices who prevailed on the NBC to rescind the revocation, with the latter describing it as a “slippery road to press emasculation.”

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