The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) of Nigeria has issued a stern warning to broadcasters with outstanding licence fees, threatening them with sanctions and shutdown if they do not comply.

Broadcasters in Nigeria are expected to pay the NBC for the right to broadcast but at present owe a combined debt of N5billion, the equivalent of approximately US$16million. The deadline for payments is currently 15 March 2017.

In a strongly worded statement, the NBC Director-General, Mr. Is’haq Modibo Kawu, also expressed concern that some stations with outstanding fees had procured their own transmitters that clash with the transmission signals of other stations.

“The consequence of this is that we have frequency clashes occurring all over Nigeria. As of [28 March], we had compiled a total of 69 stations around Nigeria, that have installed transmitters beyond the transmitter power stipulated in their licenses, and that is not even exhaustive,” he said.

All of this comes at a time when the NBC are investing heavily in digitalising Nigeria’s broadcast network by June 2017, having missed the original ITU deadline of June 2015. Achieving digital transition will certainly broaden the spectrum available to broadcasters although it is often critiqued for having a costly implementation process while leaving poorer communities without the technology needed to access digital services.

Nonetheless, NBC claim they are ready to meet this deadline, with a planned simultaneous switch-over across six key states and the potential for subsidised set-top boxes (STB) based on negotiations with local partners and governments.

Header image: Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. Credits: OpenUpEd/Creative Commons