President Muhammadu Buhari has approved 67 new broadcast licences to increase the total number of licences granted by the administration from 2015 to date to 473.
The Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Malam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, who announced the approval in Abuja, on Thursday, said the commission would soon commence issuing the licences. He described the approval as a great milestone in furthering pluralism and freedom of expression.
He said 47 of the newly licensed organisations were FM Radio stations, while five were community Radio and four DTT Radio stations.
He said presently, there were 740 functional broadcast stations in the country, while the list was expected to grow with further approval by the president.
Ilelah also disclosed that the president had approved for the NBC to recruit more staff that would monitor broadcast stations in all parts of the country as well as acquire state of the art nationwide broadcast monitoring equipment for the forthcoming election.
He added that in spite of the challenges with the implementation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO), the commission was determined to deliver to Nigerians life changing digital broadcasting using Simulcrypt and working in collaboration with NTA Star Nigeria and ITS. The NBC also disclosed that 302 stations have been sanctioned for violating the 2023 election electioneering campaign which commenced four months ago.
The Director NBC Broadcast Management, Mrs. Franca Ayitor, gave the breakdown of the number of the stations that were sanctioned.
She said the erring stations have two weeks to pay the fines failure of which would lead to graduation of fines.
According to Ayitor, 17 stations were fined while 196 stations were warned. She said 63 stations were cautioned while 93 stations were reprimanded. She added that 70 percent of stations had paid the fines.
Ayitor said the affected stations did not follow the guidelines for political programming content and quality which was prepared by the commission and shared to the stations.
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja