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FG announces 60 percent debt forgiveness for broadcast stations hard hit by COVID-19

THE Federal Government has announced a 60 percent debt forgiveness for broadcast stations in Nigeria in order to cushion the effects of  COVID-19 pandemic on them.

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture announced this on Monday during a press briefing on interventions by the Federal Government to ensure financial sustainability among broadcast stations in the country.

According to Mohammed, like many other sectors, the broadcast industry was hard hit by the effects of COVID-19 due to falling revenues occasioned by the dwindling adverts and sponsored programmes, in the wake of the pandemic.

The Minister noted that according to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) many Nigerian radio and television stations are indebted to the Federal Government to the tune of N7.8 billion.

Sequel to this, Mohammed revealed that the government has approved the 60 percent debt forgiveness provided the indebted stations are able to pay the remaining 40 percent in three months.

“The Post-Covid-19 Initiatives Committee for the Creative Industry, which we set up to help mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on the Creative Industry as a whole, has submitted its report which contained recommendations that will benefit all component parts of the larger Creative Industry,” he disclosed.

“These measures are in addition to the two-month licence-fee waiver granted to terrestrial broadcast stations in the country by the NBC, as part of efforts to ease the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Broadcast Industry.

He added that the existing license fee is further discounted by 30 percent to all open terrestrial radio and television services effective July 10, 2020.

However, the Minister stated that debt forgiveness is available to licensed broadcast stations only and not pay-TV service operators.

He said the decision was based on a previous meeting held earlier on May 6 with the leadership of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) who sought interventions from federal and state governments due to the pandemic.

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“Indeed,on 6 May 2020, I received the officials and other representatives of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), who made a comprehensive presentation on the effects of the pandemic on the industry and sought critical interventions by Federal and State Governments,” the Minister said.

Mohammed further noted that the Federal Government made the interventions with a view to repositioning the broadcast industry to play its critical role in promoting democracy and good governance in Nigeria.

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