Nigeria: FG Urged to Liberalise Broadcast Industry and issue national licences to private sector

Regulation & Policy

Taking a cue from the telecommunications industry, the former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and President, Silverbird radio and television stations, Ben Bruce has called on the Federal Government to liberalise the broadcast industry in Nigeria to ensure rapid growth of the sector.

He gave the advice when he led the management team of his organisation on a courtesy call to the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof Dora Akunyili. Bruce also urged the minister to ensure the full implementation of the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting as directed by the federal government.

The former NTA chief executive said a situation where only NTA has national licence to cover the whole of the country does not augur well for the industry and implored the government to issue national licence to all the private broadcast stations in the country to enable them transmit in all parts of the country.

"NTA alone cannot publicise federal government policies", said the Silverbird president, adding that private stations have a very major role to play in the dissemination of information on the policies and activities of the government. The former NTA chief executive, however, advised Akunyili not to be the minister of NTA, FRCN but also the minister of all the media by carrying everybody along.

Responding, Prof Akunyili promised to support him and other private broadcast owners to realise their ambitions of operating a national station by granting them national licence.

According to the minister, most Nigerians are advertising on CNN because of wider coverage, stating that if private television stations could have such wide coverage, it would discourage Nigerians from advertising on CNN thereby saving the money which could have been transferred abroad through such advertisements.

Akunyili posited that if private stations are given national licences, it would help them to grow thereby creating direct employment for Nigerians. The minister therefore challenged the former NTA boss to apply for a national licence, assuring that such application would be given the desired attention. "Whatever you need to compete with CNN, say it. I am going to give you all the support you need", the minister said.

Leadership Abuja 29 January 2009