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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Community Radio: Stakeholders advocate free license, 2.5% exemption



Community radio stakeholders in the country have advocated for the exemption of 2.5 per cent remittance of their total annual turnover to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as well as free license.

They also argued that this call has become important due to the fact that community radio stations’ operational philosophy is not profit oriented.

Participants at the recently concluded conference in Makurdi, under the aegis of the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC), which dwelled on the theme: “Strengthening Advocacy, Re-energizing Community Capacity Building” advised the federal government to expeditiously adopt the draft of the reviewed National Communication Policy and the Community Radio Policy.

This, the Coalition said would pave the way for the government to also direct the regulatory body to license grassroots community radio stations nationwide, decrying that Nigeria is the only country in West Africa yet to have community radio structures, thus, not benefiting from the advantages of dialogue and popular participation which are important ingredients in democracy and development.

A communiqué made available to ICTRealms Online by the Coalition, urged NBC to come up with a framework through which other subsets of community radio could operate, just as it had done in the case of campus radio.

The group stressed that by exercising its powers under Section 20 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act No. 38 of 1992, as amended, NBC would make regulations to ensure that the provisions of the Act is upheld.

“Ensure that license for community radio is issued free of financial cost and that minimal charges are required for renewal and other administrative matters,” the group said.

Also, they canvassed for NBC to issue guidelines on equipment specification and standardization on community radio in line with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Training Manual specifications and the principles set out by the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

They equally want NBC to allocate transmission wattage to community radio stations on the basis of need and as dictated by geographical conditions of coverage area.

Further, they said, NBC should liaise with campus radio operators, NCRC and other stakeholders, to work out effective and appropriate revenue generation processes.

Participants were unanimous that community radio, “because of its immediacy, simplicity, cheap and participatory nature, use of indigenous and other community languages, and ability to reach large audiences,” has become the most effective medium of mass communication for driving development projects such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Vision 2020 and the Seven-Point Agenda of the Federal Government.

They acknowledged positive actions of the government and NBC particularly in granting 27 licenses to campus communities, and for plans taken to institute appropriate policy framework in the broadcast communication sector.

The group lamented the slow pace in the overall process of allowing Nigerian grassroots communities to own community radio structures, outlining the benefits of community broadcasting to include its use for accelerating food security, conflict prevention and peace building, re-vitalization of cultural values which are needed to build a virile democratic society.

They noted that the three-day conference was part of the struggle which culminated in the formation in 2005 of what is now known as the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC), stressing that the Coalition was formed to sensitize and mobilize stakeholders as well as heighten advocacy to address the yawning gaps in the Nigerian broadcasting landscape that were and are still undermining democratic participation and efforts at national development.

The conference, held last November between 23 and 25 in Makurdi was organised with the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom, but attended by participants drawn from Ministries, Departments and other agencies of Government, community leaders, academia, members of Nigeria Union of Journalists, campus radio operators, community development associations, advocates of community radio and development communication experts in addition to the its development partners, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) among other stakeholders.


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1 comment:

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