BON Wades Into NBC, Media War

Following the face-off between the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and broadcast stations the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) has waded into the disagreement over recent pronouncements by NBC on issues of "live relay of foreign news, payment of licence renewal fees and preponderance of miracles on the screen". BON through its Chairman, Mr. Taiwo Allimi disclosed at a media briefing yesterday that the body formed in 1973 which serves as the umbrella body for all public and private radio and television stations, held a general assembly meeting to discuss these issues.

On the area of relay of foreign news by the media, Allimi who is also the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) said "not confrontation or accusations would solve these problems but the need for parties to sit and argue it. People need to know the rules and regulations of broadcasting.They need to ask what statutes govern broadcasting in countries. Like Voice of America (VOA) can not be listened to within the United States."He added that "BON accepts in principle, payment of agreed broadcast licence and renewal fees to the NBC And BON member stations should incorporate it in their annual budget, beginning from 2005 under a statutory sub-head".

The body said there needs for a steering committee that should meet on quarterly basis to discuss emerging issues affecting the industry.It however disagreed with the reliance of NBC on fillers that stations make about N25m in a month and thus should be able to pay fees charged them.The body called on its members to "evolve a shift in focus, content and creativity" in order to earn more money while Allimi said there was"no need for excessive reliance on religious programmes to survive" due to low patronage from other sectors.

BON said the matter of miracles on stations is one between the broadcasters and NBC and should not include opinions of religious bodies as NBC is a regulatory body and has the rights to determine what is broadcast within the country.

BON continued its call on NBC to create a level-playing field between private and public broadcasters, charging a higher fee on licensing for public operators since they recieve subventions from government but still go on to get commercials from the same market as do private operators.