Nigeria: Broadcasters short-changed by advertising agencies but brou-ha-ha over exact number

The Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON) publishes the amount owed by the advertising industry to the media but has not done so since 2007. The sums are always very high and the guilty parties are never named. However, this year there is a fierce argument over the sums involved. Presenting the report of the APCON Special Committee on Media Dept Issues (ASCOMDI) to newsmen in Lagos, APCON Chairman Chris Doghudje said: "The debt situation as at April 22, 2010 when ASCOMDI gave its report to the Council of APCON was as follows: claimed indebtedness is N1,145,732,661.65, agreed indebtedness N83,002,766.34 and variable indebtedness becomes N1,062,729,895.31. Some members of Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON) sectoral groups are spoiling for war over the recent report of APCON Special Committee on Media Debt Issues (ASCOMDI) on the status of the industry’sdebt, which put the actual industry debt between 2001 to 2006 at N84 million against N1.2 billion claimed indebtedness. Calling for a review of the report are members from Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), which are considered to be at the receiving end of the ASCOMDI report. These organisations believe that the report understates the level of indebtedness to the advantage of APCON members. A source in BON, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the three organisations were working hard to see how they would made the incoming council to reverse the ASCOMDI report. "We are working hard to see how this biased report can be reversed and apart from that we will take our case to the Minister of Information if we find out that another APCON chairman is from Doghudje's (Chair of ASCOMDI) camp." Another source from NPAN, who queried the authenticity of the report said, "the report said about N766.4 million was traceable to non-AAAN members. Where did they get their fact from since they say media houses were not forthcoming in submission of claims?," he quipped. "I am sure if we look at this report carefully there would be a lot of discrepancy and this is unacceptable to us." A top OAAN member, who also confided in Daily Independent, said "why is it that a committee that was inaugurated in September 11 2007, 6 months after Doghudje resumed as APCON chairman is submitting its report three days to the end of tenure of the APCON leadership? Why APCON as the regulatory authority after its findings refused to mention debtors, black-list them and prescribe punishment as it is done in other industry particularly banking and is passing the baton to the incoming council? Certainly there are many questions to be answered by the committee members," he said. Doghudje, who was addressing the media on the issue said, "it is a matter of deep regret that the original debt claims deadline was not met by BON, NPAN and OAAN and this created a chain reaction that necessitated fresh deadline. This, apparently, is the cause of delay of announcement and presentation according to the outgoing APCON chairman. According to Doghudje, based on the ASCOMDI report: "There was clear evidence that a huge percentage of the alleged debts did not originate from Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) and Media Independents Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN). These were traceable to independent producers/marketers and direct media buyers." He noted that the detailed report on the debt problem showing claims, disputed claims, and agreed claims - was forwarded to all sectoral groups on February 19, 2010 and no response has so far been received from BON, NPAN and OAAN. On the way forward, he said, "Should APCON still go ahead to give six months for agreed debts to be settled? And, should APCON thereafter publish the names of defaulters for media owners to blacklist? These are decisions the new APCON council, which will soon be inaugurated, will have to take