The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) has condemned the approval of the sale of 600MHz broadcasting spectrum to MTN, a mobile telecommunication company.
In a letter sent to the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris (Malagi), dated September 21, 2023, and signed by the organisation’s Executive Secretary, Dr Yemisi Bamgbose, the BON urged the minister to intervene in the matter.
“If the sale of the 600MHZ spectrum to Telecom company should be allowed, then the future of Television Broadcasting in Nigeria is very bleak,” BON said.
The letter which was received by the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation on September 22, 2023 is titled, ‘Sad Moment For Broadcasters As NCC Approves The Sale Of 600 Mhz Broadcasting Spectrum To MTN- A Call For Urgent Intervention Of The Honourable Minister Of Information And National Orientation.’
It called on the minister to intervene in the “matter of purported sale of the 600MHZ to MT, a spectrum primarily allocated to broadcasting across the globe”.
“This intervention is very important because of the serious consequences the sale will have on the broadcast industry in particular and the Nigerian Citizens in general.”
According to the organisation, the “present composition of the National Frequency Management Committee should as a matter of urgency be looked into in order to ensure adequate representation of the broadcasting Sector in the committee”.
It said, “A situation at which NBC and the entire broadcast sector has just one representative in the National Frequency Management Committee should not be allowed to continue.”
It also called on the minister to “notify the Presidency and the Federal Executive Council about this matter because of the public outcry that will follow if it is allowed to be sold without necessary assessment of the impacts it would have on the public and the danger it portends to information dissemination in near future”.
“This is a sad development to the broadcasting industry in Nigeria more so that the Frequency in question was legally allocated to broadcasting worldwide,” it said.
BON said it had earlier written to the National Broadcasting Commission, urging it not to allow the NCC to sell the spectrum when it was advertised for sale by the commission in April.
It recalled, “In the said letter and during several physical engagements with DG NBC on this matter, BON clearly stated the consequences of allowing NC to sell the 600MHz. Please see the attached letters earlier written to NBC.
“The Hon Minister, Sir if the decision to sell the spectrum is allowed, ‘Broadcasting will soon become a tenant in its own building’. The entire citizens are likely to be at the receiving end.
“Apart from the consequences the sale will have on the broadcasting industry, it will also have multiplier negative effects on religion, as big mosques and churches, as well as the entertainment industry, will be denied free signal for the use of wireless microphone unless they get the approval after payment from MTN.
“It is unfortunate that public interest is never considered before arriving at decisions mainly for monetary gains without thorough investigation on consequences of such decisions on the generality of the public.”
BON said it equally raised its suspicions over why the tender for the sale of the spectrum in question was advertised at the twilight of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
It said, “The Hon Minister, Sir it is not the sole responsibility of NCC to sell the spectrum but that of the National Frequency Management Committee of which the composition is lopsided.
“In our informal engagements on this matter with NBC as the Broadcast Regulator, the feedback has been that NBC management was not carried along by NCC in the decision to sell the frequency which was primarily allocated to broadcasting, mandate of which NBC was created to superintend.
“We do not need a fortune-teller to predict that NBC might will soon cease to collect licence fee from Television stations for obvious reasons.
“NBC, based on the fact that it was not carried along in the purported decision to sell the frequency has not determined the stations that will be affected which in BON’s analysis will be monumental.”
In May, KOKO TV NG exclusively reported how Isa Ali Pantami, the immediate former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Sabiu “Tunde” Yusuf, who was former Buhari’s personal secretary, reportedly colluded to ensure the granting of licences for broadcast frequencies in the 600MHz spectrum band by the NCC in the twilight of the administration.
KOKO TV NG learnt that the move was to grant such licences to companies linked to their cronies and associates in the Aso Rock Villa, as well as a close ally of Bola Tinubu, who was the president-elect at the time.
A source within the presidency confirmed this to KOKO TV NG, adding that Pantami and Tunde Yusuf had also been attempting to shift earnings from sales to private bank accounts, which was another attempt to siphon additional public assets before handing over to the incoming government.
This mischief also included a 50% discount on the licence, sources said.
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