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COVID-19: FG writes off N4.2bn debt of broadcast stations

COVID-19: FG writes off N4.2bn debt of broadcast stations
July 07
08:56 2020
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The federal government has cancelled 60 percent of the debt owed to it by broadcast stations to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the industry.

At a media briefing on Monday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said the broadcast industry is hard-hit owing to falling revenues occasioned by dwindling adverts and sponsored programmes in the wake of the pandemic.

He said many Nigerian radio and television stations remained indebted to the government to the tune of N7.8 billion while many of them are faced with the reality that their licenses will not be renewed in view of their indebtedness.

“Against this background, the management of the NBC has recommended, and the federal government has accepted 60 percent debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations in the country,” he said.

Mohammed, however, said the criterion for enjoying the debt relief was for debtor stations to pay 40 percent of their existing debt within the next three months.

According to him, any station that is unable to pay the balance of 40 percent within the three-month window shall forfeit the opportunity to enjoy the debt forgiveness.

The minister said the government also approved that the existing license fee of the broadcast stations be further discounted by 30 percent for all open terrestrial radio and television services effective July 10.

He said the debt forgiveness will apply to functional licensed terrestrial radio and television stations only.

“The debt forgiveness and discount shall not apply to pay TV service operators in Nigeria,” he said.

“The effective date of the debt forgiveness shall be July 10 to October 6th, 2020.”

Mohammed said the measures were in addition to the two-month licence-fee waiver granted to terrestrial broadcast stations in the country by the NBC as part of efforts to ease the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He gave an assurance that the measures taken by the government would revamp the industry as well as help reposition it for the challenges of business in the post-COVID-19 era.

He said: ”The federal government has made these interventions with a view to repositioning the broadcast industry to play its critical role in promoting democracy and good governance in Nigeria.

“It is our expectation that the sector will cash in on this unique opportunity to make itself an effective catalyst for national development.”

The minister also said similar measures will be extended to the print industry by the government.

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