RAYPOWER FM says it has paid a total of N1.5 million as fines imposed on it by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for several alleged offences.
Tony Akiotu, Group Managing Director of DAAR Communications Plc, made this known during a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.
On July 9, the NBC fined Raypower N1 million for allegedly “exceeding the allowed band occupancy limit” granted to it, and on July 24, the radio station was fined another N500,000 for alleged breach of the NBC code, following “provocative and inflammatory” comments made by anchors of a political programme that airs on the station.
However, Akiotu said that the company has paid the fines “to show that we are law-abiding citizens”, but stressed that they broke no rule and had been operating within the limit given to them.
He explained that the radio licence given to Raypower FM in 1999, grants the station a broadcast boundary of between 100.410 MHz to 100.590MHz and an operating Frequency of 100.5MHZ, which was within the limit the NBC accused it of broadcasting beyond.
“Without any prior correspondence on this same subject matter, surprisingly from the blues, in the earlier letter under reference the Commission in its own wisdom asserted a case of breach against us with a fine of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Nalra) with a further threat that the Commission would not hesitate to apply higher sanctions including revocation of licence and shutting down of the broadcast station, if the breaches persist,” Akiotu said.
On the second allegation, Akiotu said the NBC of trying to muzzle the company into silence or force them to become praise singers of the government in power.
“Severally we have been invited to the Commission to either drop some presenters or decimate/tone down the vibrancy of the programme,” he said.
“At various times, through overtures from the Commission, we have been requested to navigate the course of the discourse on the programme to desperately support the sitting government at all cost irrespective of the glaring security challenges, killings and the pervading sociopolitical and economic dislocations that abound in the country which are daily expressed through the mails from the citizenry and the analysts.
“Succinctly put, we have been intimidated, threatened and every attempt made to muzzle and stifle our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.”
Akiotu also pointed out that DAAR Communications Plc has consistently fulfilled its financial obligations to the NBC despite the harsh economic situation of the country.
“In view of the very tight economic situation in the country, DAAR Communications Plc made an offer to pay the licence fees in monthly instalments based on the 2010/2015 rates. This was again outrightly rejected. Yet the Commission continues to blackmail DAAR Communications Plc, alleging a refusal to pay its licence fees,” Akiotu explained.
“We make bold to state that it is not only DAAR Communications Plc that is allegedly owing the NBC licence fees for the period 2016/2021 therefore, it is indeed blackmail and name calling in a bid to embarrass, discredit and hang the station.
“The NBC is indeed determined to achieve a purpose which is outrightly at variance with the provisions of the code but an agenda meant to shut down our stations considering the recent spate of fines, media persecution and the rather embarrassing developments.
“As a responsible corporate citizen and licensee, we have paid the fines of N500,000.00 and N1,000,000.00 respectively which to all intent and purposes are unjust, unfair and an assault on us.”
“We hereby request that after due diligence by the appropriate officers of the commission and the institution of the state, it will eventually be discovered that we were indeed unjustly fined and the most honourable thing is to appropriately effect the necessary refund and restitution.”