The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) have rejected the planned sale of the 600MHz spectrum by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The NCC had in March announced the availability of frequency slots in the 600 MHz spectrum band for nationwide deployment.
But BON in a letter said the sale of the frequency would lead to the sudden disappearance of the majority of the television stations in the country and give foreign media maximum penetration into the nation’s broadcast space. In the letter, dated 25 April and addressed to the Director-General of NBC and signed by Yemisi Bamgbose, executive secretary of BON, the organization called on the NBC to take all necessary possible legal steps to ensure that the spectrum is not sold until necessary steps had been taken to protect.
The letter read in part: “Our attention has been drawn to an advertisement placed by the NCC, titled ‘Availability of Frequency Slots in the 600 MHz Spectrum Band’, published on March 23, 2023. “In the said advertisement, the NCC brought notice to the general public on the availability of frequency slots in the 600MHz spectrum band for sale.
“If this sale of the primary spectrum allocated to broadcasting is allowed to happen, all television stations operating on frequency 600MHz will be affected negatively. “Those that will be affected include all DTT operators; ITS; Pinnacle; many private television stations; the majority of state government-owned stations; some NTA community and state stations operating within the range of 600MHz frequency.”
The organisation explained that the frequency 700-800MHz, housing some state government-owned and private stations, have been sold to telecom operators, a decision that has created problems that have not been resolved. It noted that the digital switchover which NCC might be capitalising on has not been delivered as expected. BON said that it is aware of all the efforts put in place by NBC for many years to achieve an analogue switch-off, but the desired result is still very far from the remarkable achievement.
“It is therefore very curious to ask the National Communication Commission the reason behind rushing to sell the spectrum that is specifically and legitimately allocated for broadcasting in Nigeria,” the statement said. “More curious is the urgency by which NBC is rushing to ensure the sale of the spectrum within a short period of expiration of the tenure of the current administration.”
The BON official noted that the sale of the spectrum by NCC will lead to the sudden disappearance of the majority of the television stations in Nigeria. “Many television stations are on the 476-700 MHz including free view, DTT, pay TV, private TV, NTA community stations and state government-owned television. “Without doubt, more than 80 per cent of Nigerians will be denied access to television broadcasting which serves as the authentic source of accurate information, public enlightenment and solely source of entertainment.
“It will give the foreign media maximum penetration into the nation’s broadcast space in which negative consequences can only be imagined,” the statement said. In a separate letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the NBC said the action of the NCC, advertising a frequency band that is exclusively allocated for broadcasting by ITU, is an illegality.
“Consequently, NCC is advised to immediately withdraw the advert and cease and desist any further action on the 470MHz-694MHz band,” the letter reads.
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