Nigeria: AIT, Raypower Get National Network Licence

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Sixteen years after the deregulation of the broadcast industry in the country, the Yar'Adua administration has removed the final vestiges of monopoly by granting a national network license to Daar Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower FM. In effect, the Daar channels can now be seen and heard across the country simultaneously, thus giving people the opportunity to share both private and public broadcast voices and visuals.

Vanguard gathered that after studying the recommendations of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the President was swayed towards changing the position of previous administrations on allowing private companies to have network powers for fear of crisis.

In conveying the President's position to the broadcaster, Acting Director of the NBC, Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa, said: "I am pleased to inform you that in accordance with Section 2(1) (c) of the National Broadcasting Commission Act No. 38 of 1992 (as amended), the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has graciously granted approval to your company to establish radio and television stations across the country, subject to availability of channels and frequencies in each location."

Section 2 (1) in the Broadcast Act captures the functions of the commission and also its capacity to recommend broadcast stations to the President for approval. Specifically, Section 2 (1) (c) says the NBC shall have responsibility of recommending applications through the Minister to the President for the grant of radio and television licences.

It is in exercising this responsibility that President Umaru Yar'Adua awarded Daar Communications a network licence to broadcast throughout the whole territory of Nigeria. Bundled into the licence is a Direct to Home (DTH) package which empowers Daar to offer pay-for digital satellite subscription services.

Launching AIT International in New York in 2003, Dr Dokpesi spoke of a desire to promote and project Nigeria and the entire black race to the rest of the world using his broadcast platform. In a recent interview with Vanguard, Dr. Dokpesi said: "It is indeed sad that Nigeria which pioneered television broadcasting in 1959 and colour television broadcasting in 1973 in the continent of Africa is now dependent on other African countries for television services because of the restrictive manner that the industry is regulated particularly the private broadcasting sector."

(Vanguard (Lagos), 16 January 2008)