The Nigerian government has granted a two-month licence fee waiver to terrestrial broadcast stations to ease the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry.
Information and culture minister Lai Mohammed announced the move during a meeting with the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON). The organisation had asked the government to approve tax rebates for the broadcast stations as well as a one-year moratorium in the payment of annual operating licence fees to the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Terrestrial stations affected include Galaxy, AIT, TVC, MITV, Silverbird TV, NTA, which are all free-to-air channels. A broadcast licence fee in Nigeria costs as much as US$7,661 a year for these companies.
Mohammed said: “While BON members have been hit hard by the current pandemic, they are not alone. In fact, the entire creative industry, which also covers the broadcast industry, has been affected by the pandemic that has inflicted extensive damage on the economy of nations across the world.”
Mohammed also announced the setting up of a committee of creative industry stakeholders to address the effect of the pandemic on the sector.
“Before I announce the terms of reference of the committee, let me say that, in the interim, I want to announce that I have approved the request by NBC to grant a two-month licence fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations in Nigeria.
“The committee will be assessing the expected impact of the pandemic on the industry in general, advise the government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses in the sector, create succour for the industry’s small businesses, suggest the type of taxation and financing that is best for the industry at this time to encourage growth, and advise the government on any other measure or measures that can be undertaken to support the industry.”
The committee members include Nollywood comedian Ali Baba as chairman; TV producer Charles Novia; actor Segun Arinze; FreeTV’s Olumade Adesemowo; streamer Envivo’s Chioma Ude; Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim of the BON; and Anita Eboigbe from the News Agency of Nigeria.
Mohammed added: “We are still expecting the representatives of the fashion, publishing, photography, hospitality and travel sectors, and the committee has four weeks to submit its report.”