The Nigeria Labour Congress has called on the National Broadcasting Commission to review the cost of operating licences for broadcast organisations in the country.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba made the call in a statement days after NBC announced the withdrawal of the broadcast licences of more than 50 radio and television stations in the country.
The NBC based its decision on the failure of the stations to renew their licences.
But Wabba in his statement said the decision failed to take into account economic challenges that have hurt the operations of the stations, arguing that the stations did not deliberately refuse to renew the licences.
“In defence of the media, democratic and economic rights of Nigerians, we call on the NBC to rescind this decision to withdraw the operating licenses of the affected 53 media houses,” he said.
“In light of our foregoing concerns, we urge that the media operating licence be reviewed downwards as information dissemination is a social service.”
The NLC President acknowledged that the NBC had a regulatory duty in the broadcast industry but stressed that the withdrawal of the licences “is a little too drastic, dramatic, draconian, and debilitating not only for the affected media houses but also for their staff and indeed millions of Nigerians who follow programs from the affected media houses”.
In making a case for the affected media organisations gave examples of the challenges media organisations are battling.
He said, “Many media houses just like most businesses in Nigeria suffer the double jeopardy of escalating business costs and plummeting revenues.
“Largely to blame for this sad state of affairs is government which mismanagement of the economy has ensured that a litre of diesel is now knocking at the borderline of N1000. To compound the situation is the epileptic supply of electricity with the national grid collapsing intermittently for the umpteenth time in recent months.
“In addition to the soaring and scary rising energy costs which hit electronic media houses hardest given that they must always be on air whether it makes economic sense or not, there are salaries to pay. maintenance services, and sundry basic operating costs to keep the media houses running and serving their listening and viewing public.
“Amidst these operational suffocations, how does the NBC expect the media houses to generate the money to renew their operating licenses? Indeed, Nigeria’s media houses should be eulogized for resilience, and tenacity in the face of prevailing economic blizzards.”