THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (NBC)
GRANT OF RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTING NETWORK SERVICE LICENCES
Abuja, September 03, 2009
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in fulfilment of an aspect of its responsibilities, recently presented to the broadcasting family its desire to licence more NETWORK stations. Given the size of Nigeria, culture and her religious diversity, commercial and national interest, plurality of broadcast networks is desirable.
The Commission remains hopeful that the widespread clamour for more NETWORKS is still a valid panacea for the concept of freedom. This will no doubt come with its challenges which the Commission is ready and willing to face squarely.
It would therefore be most useful for all those directly or peripherally engaged in the broadcast industry to pay great attention to both the spirit and the letter of the enabling Act establishing the National Broadcasting Commission and the National Broadcasting Code to allow this desire to work.
This Information Memorandum has been prepared as an accompanying document to the “Bid Document for selection of Radio and Television Broadcasting Network Service Licensees in Nigeria”.
The purpose of this document is to enable bidders to have background to the evolution of broadcasting in Nigeria, the current status of broadcasting industry in Nigeria as well as the basic conditions that will be embedded in the licence to be issued to the successful bidders.
Potential Bidders are nevertheless advised to carry out their own due diligence in order to come to their own conclusion on the viability of this opportunity.
The National Broadcasting Commission restates its commitment to the encouragement of the entrepreneurs who are braving the expanding frontiers of the dreams of free and responsible NETWORK broadcasting; a dream, which the Commission is resolved to make living a reality.
Abayomi Bolarinwa fnse
1. The History of Broadcasting in Nigeria
From 1932, when Radio Broadcasting Service started in Nigeria, as Empire Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to 1992 when Broadcasting in Nigeria was de-regulated, the broadcast media were owned either by the National, Regional or State Governments.
The Federal, Regional and State governments continued to monopolize broadcasting in Nigeria, despite the 1979 constitutional provision “that every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinion,” which included the broadcast media.
It was not until the promulgation of Decree 38 of 1992, under the leadership of General Babangida, now an Act of the National Assembly, that Government really took a decisive step to part with its long-drawn monopoly of the broadcast sector. That decree established the National Broadcasting Commission and charged it with the responsibility of regulating and deregulating broadcasting in the country. The law empowered the Commission to license stations, regulate content and, generally, set standards for quality broadcasting in the country.
Expectedly, the emergence of the Commission heralded a wave of requests from the Nigerian entrepreneurs for broadcast licences that would enable them to set up private broadcasting stations in the country. This has changed the broadcast landscape tremendously, as it allowed the ownership of radio and television by private companies and organizations in the country.
By the middle of 1992, 27 broadcast licences, 14 for terrestrial television and 13 for cable television, received presidential approval. Although not all those whose applications for licence were initially approved took advantage of the approvals, leading to the lapse of such unutilized approvals, many more licences were subsequently approved for applicants, including those for radio and DTH transmissions.
Today, as a result of that revolution in the Nigerian broadcast industry, the number of broadcasting stations in the country has, at the last count, risen to 394, from less than 30 before deregulation. These include the following number of Private Operators in the broadcast arena:
· 55 companies licensed to offer radio broadcasting services, over 90% of these are operational across the country;
· 25 companies licensed to offer television service;
· 34 Wireless Cable (MMDS) Companies;
· 5 Direct to Home (DTH) Satellite Television Platforms operational in the country.
2. The Nigeria Broadcasting Code
Section 2(I) subsection ‘h’ of the NBC Act 38 of 1992 (as amended) states that the Commission shall have the responsibility of “establishing and disseminating a National Broadcasting Code and setting standards with regard to the content and quality of materials for broadcast”.
The 4th edition of the Code was published in September 2006, following consultations with Nigerian broadcasters.
The Code contains guidelines on a variety of issues including licensing, programming, sponsorship, advertisement and technical issues such as safety regulations for radio transmitting equipment, spectrum matters, reporting procedures as well as sanctions as a result of a breach of the Act or the Code.
The National Broadcasting Commission, fully aware of the global drive towards digital broadcasting, insisted on having MMDS licensees digitize their operations for maximum results. Accordingly, a deadline of 31st March, 2008 was set for digitization of all MMDS operations in Nigeria. This has since been realized and the operators in the country are happier for it.
The setting up of the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, to chart the course of digital broadcasting in Nigeria is no doubt a step in the right direction. The report of the PAC was submitted to the Honourable Minister for Information and Communications for onward transmission to the President on 29 June 2009.
The challenges faced by the broadcast sector in Nigeria are multi-faceted. Key amongst them are summarized below.
i. The current broadcast environment is plagued by copyright infringement otherwise known as piracy and this is a disincentive to investment in content creation.
ii. There is a dearth of human capital in the creative and production sector of the industry.
iii. There is a shortage of platforms for the exploitation of the content before it is available to the broadcaster thus making the cost of acquisition unduly high.
iv. Access to funds for the creation of content is challenging because of the low level of awareness of the potentials of the creative industry, by the financial sector.
v. Foreign direct investment in the creative industry is low as a consequence of the overall investment climate in the country.
The National Broadcasting Commission is currently addressing the above challenges so as to stimulate investment in the Broadcasting sector in Nigeria. The bidding process for the licensing of Radio and TV broadcasting Networks is one of such efforts in that direction.
5. Philosophy of a Broadcasting Network
The essence of a Broadcasting Network in Nigeria is to enhance the development of Nigerian content, balance information flow between rural/urban divide and between government and the governed, as well as the presentation and clarification of societal values and goals.
It is to create a forum for the exchange of comments and criticism, the projection of opinions and attitudes of groups in society to one another such as representing every strata of the society as required in a federal state like Nigeria.
It is within this context, that the philosophy of a Network Broadcasting Services Licence has been designed as follows:
- That given the size of Nigeria, the diverse cultures, commercial interests and the growth of broadcasting stations, it has become imperative to consider alternative national and other broadcasting NETWORKS aside from the current Federal Government NETWORKS.
- That considering the policy of deregulation and particularly that of free enterprise engendered by entrepreneurial stimulation for economic growth, NETWORK broadcast licensing can also stimulate the exploration for broad competition, commerce and plurality of opinions and ideas as required in a participatory democracy.
- That while the need to licence alternative NETWORKS has become most critical and inevitable, the atmosphere in the industry, with more than 394 stations and an annual advertising revenue estimate of about 2 Billion Naira, it is feasible and viable to support additional broadcasting networks.
- That NETWORK services are required to promote political awareness, inculcate the spirit of tolerance of all shades of opinion, promote social justice based on the responsibility and rights of individuals in society and above all recognize that as a medium, NETWORK service shall exercise freedom of expression as agent of the society and NOT for any special, personal or sectional interests, rights, privileges and needs of their own or their proprietor, relatives, friends and supporters.
- That fairness, balance, accuracy and objectivity and good taste manifest through morality and commitment to a high sense of Nigerian social values, straight dealing in programming as well as a guarantee for an immediate access to ‘Right of Reply’ to mis-representations, shall guide NETWORK content at all times.
- That the National Broadcasting Commission in pursuance of its statutory mandate to superintend over broadcasting, accedes to license other networks for Radio and Television in Nigeria based on the terms, agreements and regulations set out in the bidding document accordingly.
The Commission affirms that it shall cooperate, encourage, uphold and protect Network services and firmly ensure that the licensees adhere to the terms of the licence, the agreement, the National Broadcasting Commission Act No 38 of 1992 (as amended), National Broadcasting Code and other extant laws relating to broadcasting.
6. Licence Conditions
The licence authorizes the provision of a NETWORK Broadcast Services conditional upon compliance by the licensee with the spirit and letter of the provisions of the National Broadcasting Commission Act, the Licence to be issued, the National Broadcasting Code, all extant laws relating to Broadcasting as well as regulations prescribed by the Commission from time to time.
6.2 Enabling Instruments
Sections 2(1)(b)(c),9,11 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act No 38 of 1992 and paragraph 10.0 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, provide the basic instruments for this licensing process.
The licence shall authorize a NETWORK Broadcasting Service conditional upon compliance with the terms, conditions and obligations set out in the licence; the agreement and schedules attached and which service shall be provided with due regard to the character, control, management, objectives, intentions, representations and undertakings made by the licensee in its application; all of which shall be read and interpreted having in mind the objectives of broadcasting in Nigeria, the philosophy of a NETWORK Service, the National Broadcasting Commission Act and the National Broadcasting Code.
6.3 Definition of Network
A NETWORK is a content provider with a premier station serving as the nucleus for the production, acquisition and transmission of indigenous content of national appeal and having the nation as coverage area through diverse affiliates/associates. The network shall be content driven.
To this end, pursuant to Section 2(1)(b)(c) of the National Broadcasting Commission Act No.38 of 1992 and Paragraph 10.0 of the National Broadcasting Code, the Commission has set out the following conditions and terms for the grant of a Network Broadcasting Services License.
6.4 NETWORK LICENSING CONDITIONS
At the commencement of the Network licensing regime, each licenced terrestrial station for Radio and Television operating in the country is to revert to city based coverage instead of the current zone based coverage at the expiration of its current licence term (this include DTH and DBS Licences)
i) Licensing of Network services shall be limited to FM and UHF frequencies for Radio and Television respectively using Affiliates and Associate stations.
ii) For reasons of National cohesion and integration, broadcast on a NETWORK shall be spread across the country as much as possible.
iii) A NETWORK Licence applicant shall demonstrate adequate financial, professional and technical profile and capacity.
iv) A NETWORK programming profile shall comprise content that fosters national unity, cohesion, stability and respects local sensitivities.
v) A NETWORK operation shall cover the entire area of its licence.
vi) The responsibility of every NETWORK broadcast shall be collectively borne by the stations on which it is relayed. Therefore, each affiliate shall ascertain that each NETWORK programme meets the provisions of its licence and the National Broadcasting Code.
vii) A licensee of a NETWORK shall not enter into an agreement for affiliation with any station without the approval of the Commission.
viii) An affiliate/ Associate of a NETWORK shall continue to discharge its programming responsibility to its primary target audience, based on the original terms of its licence. In any case, local programming shall not be less that 70% of its daily broadcast schedule.
ix) A licensee of a NETWORK shall seek the Commission’s approval before establishing and operating a new station in the NETWORK.
x) Any new station joining the NETWORK as a single station or an Affiliate/
Associate shall be licensed by the Commission
6. POWER TO GRANT LICENCE
i) In consideration of an application for a NETWORK licence, the Commission shall be satisfied that the applicant:
a. Is a body corporate registered in Nigeria, in accordance with the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990;
b. Can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Commission that he is not applying on behalf of any foreign interest;
c. Can comply with the objectives of the National Mass Communication Policy as applicable to the electronic media, that is, radio and television;
d. Can give an undertaking that the licensed stations shall be used to promote national interest, unity and cohesion and that it shall not be used to offend the religious sensibilities or promote ethnicity, sectionalism, hatred and disaffection among the peoples of Nigeria.
ii) Each Affiliate/Associate shall be eligible to own not more than 16.6% of the total equity of the NETWORK.
iii) An Affiliate/Associate shall not be a member of more than one NETWORK of the same service (radio or television).
iv) For the purpose of participating as an Affiliate/Associate in a NETWORK, ownership of a number of stations shall equate to one as to ensure that no single Affiliate/Associate dominates the service.
7. PROCEDURE FOR APPLICATION
- An application for a Network Service License shall be by way of Bidding.
- An advertisement shall be placed in at least 3 National Newspapers and the Electronic media calling for:
- applications for Radio Network Broadcast Service Licence, and
- applications for Television Network Broadcast Service Licence.
- The Advertisement shall include specifications upon which applications shall be made.
· In order to be eligible to bid, applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee of one million Naira (=N=1,000,000.00) for each Network broadcast type(Radio Network or Television Network) in order to obtain an APPLICATION FORM from the Commission.
8. DOCUMENTS TO ACCOMPANY AN APPLICATION
An application shall be accompanied by the following:
(a) Certificate of incorporation.
(b) Certified copy of Article’s and Memorandum of Association
(c) Project study including engineering design system.
(d) Evidence of the undertaking required under section 9(d) of the Act.
PERSONS DISQUALIFIED FROM THE GRANT OF A NETWORK LICENCE
· As provided in Section 10 of Act No.38 of 1992 (as amended), a network licence shall not be granted to a political party or religious organization.
REVOCATION OF A NETWORK LICENCE
A NETWORK Licence shall be revoked:
· Where it is found that the licence was obtained in breach of the provisions of the National Broadcasting Commission Act/Code.
· Where the Licensee is in liquidation, declared bankrupt, in receivership or found guilty of a class A breach.
For the purpose of programming:
a) Stations shall contribute proportionately to the overall programme broadcast on the Network.
b) Stations shall not abdicate the programming responsibilities of its primary audience to the NETWORK.
c) All NETWORK service stations shall be liable jointly and severally for the programmes broadcast on the Network.
d) All NETWORKS shall be responsible for the sourcing and contents of the programmes they broadcast
e) NETWORK programming shall not be more than 30% of its daily broadcast hours.
f) All NETWORKS shall not relay ‘LIVE’ the news programme of a foreign station over which it has no editorial control or discretion and independence to effect a ‘Right of Reply’. This excludes Breaking News and Emergencies.
g) Content on a NETWORK should have National appeal, should present the cultures, balanced views, shades of opinion of the diverse constituents of the country and respect the sensibilities and sensitivities of the diverse cultures of Nigeria.
h) It shall be mandatory for all the NETWORKS to transmit all National and Emergency Broadcasts.
i) The Commission reserves the right to prohibit the transmission or reception of any content on a NETWORK in the interest of National Security, or in the event of a National emergency.
10. DURATION OF NETWORK LICENCE
A NETWORK service licence shall be valid for a period of 5(five) years in the first instance: subject to renewal for another 5 (five) years.
11. SUBMISSION OF AUDITED ACCOUNTS
The licensee of the NETWORK service licence shall submit its yearly Audited Accounts to the Commission not later than 6 (six) months after the end of each financial year.
12. TERMS OF LICENCE
a. A NETWORK Licence is non-transferable.
b. A licensee of a NETWORK shall not either directly or indirectly assign or
transfer its rights in any manner or enter into any agreement with any 3rd party either in whole or in part without the approval of the Commission.
c. Any violation of the terms of a NETWORK shall be construed as a breach of the licence agreement and the licence shall be suspended or revoked immediately.
d. The validity of a NETWORK licence shall be 5 (five) years subject to renewal of a non-exclusive basis. The duration of a licence shall be calculated from the date of issuance by Commission, except revoked earlier for default or insolvency, bankruptcy, receivership.
13. OPERATIONAL FEE
A NETWORK Licensee shall pay a levy of 2.5% annually to the Commission on its Annual income.
14. RENEWAL OF LICENCE
a) An application for the renewal of a NETWORK service Licence shall be made to the Commission within a period of six (6) months before the expiration of the licence.
b) The licensee shall apply in writing to the Commission for the renewal.
c) The renewal shall be predicated upon the fulfillment of all terms of the expiring licence; including payment of all annual levies on its annual income for every year of its subsisting licence and the performance of the network stations.
d) The licensee shall pay a prescribed renewal processing and licence fee, to be .set by the commission.
e) A public hearing shall be held in respect of the renewal of a NETWORK licence.
f) The licensee shall pay all the cost of public hearing
g) The renewal of a NETWORK service licence shall be subjected to a satisfactory performance of the Network:
15. INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS
The licensee of a NETWORK shall be required to furnish the Commission with such information at periodic intervals or at such time as the Commission may require, including and not limited to, documents, reports, audited accounts, estimates or other information such as change in Chief Executives, Board of Directors, Associates/Affiliate, equity holding pattern and or any alterations in the corporate entity of the licensee.
NBC…. Your Right to quality Broadcasting.