A Port Harcourt-based legal practitioner has put plans on motion to drag the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to court over the award of broadcasting licences.

Festus Oguche intends to break what he considers to be a domination of the broadcast space in Nigeria by the elite due to the award of licences to political bigwigs, military top brass and business moguls.

The Legal Practitioner frowned at what he considered to be outrageous charges for broadcasting licences, which he said was well outside the reach of majority of Nigerians.

He also argued that the trend creates room for lopsided information dissemination characterized by elitist considerations, which further emasculates the poor masses and reduced their constitutionally enlarged space for free speech.

Oguche therefore urged the NBC to review its fee structure and place more emphasis on professionalism and excellence in the award of broadcasting licenses to enhance mass participation and constitutionally guaranteed rights.

“Radio stations are springing up. Stations without focus. This is because the past administration gave out licenses to his friends and associates without recourse to the Laws.

“It is unfortunate. Our reason for seeking court redress is to find out what the NBC is doing about these licenses they have issued to politicians,” he said.

In its response, the NBC said it was a misconception and completely misleading to suggest that broadcast license fees were outrageous and well outside the reach of majority of Nigerians.

In a letter signed by the Assistant Director, Legal, George Obi, the broadcasting commission explained that there were different categories of licences which attract different fees, according to provisions of the National Broadcasting Commission Act, 2004.

Obi mentioned Campus FM Radio for mass communications training institutions which attracts annual fee of one million naira spread over five years, and the Community Radio category that attracts two hundred and fifty thousand naira, also spread over five years.

Obi also disclosed that commercial broadcast licences have higher fees to reflect the commercial nature and value of the frequencies, which he said are finite resources.

The NBC official maintained that as a regulatory agency, the commission’s activities were always guided by the provisions of the law, including review of licence fee, when it considers it necessary.

Culled from Daily Post. Author Victor Azubuike

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