Home Uncategorized Hit FM Boss Decries Unnecessary Interference Of Governments In Broadcast Industry

Hit FM Boss Decries Unnecessary Interference Of Governments In Broadcast Industry

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Andy Esiet, Calabar 

Patrick Ugbe

A former Commissioner for Information in Cross River state, Mr. Patrick Ugbe has decried the unnecessary interference of governments in the broadcast industry in Nigeria. 

Ugbe who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hit 95.9 FM, the pioneer privately owned radio station established eight years ago (December 2015) in the state, in an exclusive interview said that governments interference poor patronage, unequal opportunities in the industry and others are the bane of the broadcast industry in Nigeria.

He said, “our regulator is the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and I would say there is still a whole lot to do. I would expect they really help grow the industry in Nigeria and the only way they can do that is to understand the challenges that the industry is faced with and work hard to see how they can unbundle those challenges in order to make the industry thrive.

“When stories are carried and they do not favour the government of the day, because NBC is controlled by the government, they are not independent” hence they go overboard and worried by this unnecessary interference, he advocated for an independent regulatory industry 

The seasoned broadcaster said, “we would love to see a very independent regulator that would stand for the growth of the industry. When that happens, those issues would not be there again because no government would come and say any station should be sanctioned for saying something against them, but there will be an understanding that first and foremost, the broadcast industry is serving the common man in the society and not just the government of the day while standing for fairness and justice.

“The Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) on its own can only advice the stations to follow and do what is right at all times, now that is where NBC should come in and sanction stations that go overboard and bring them back to terms with the code of broadcast…We have ethics of our profession so we all should practice base on the ethics that are the guiding principles of our profession. If we do that, the space will be okay and so should any station go beyond and against the ethics of the profession, such station should be sanctioned”.

On the economic challenge, he said this is major problem for the industry as “most of the stations, though on air, are not really viable because the revenue is not what it should be. I don’t think the market can support the huge number of stations operating in Nigeria. You find some stations being unable to meet up with their responsibilities like paying of staff salaries and so on.

“Secondly, in the environment which we operate, people don’t really understand what broadcasting is and should be, so you find broadcast stations taking flag from different angles. When a story is carried and it doesn’t favour any side of the divide, they come on hard against that station and that is what you will never get in the developed world because everyone understands that there is a task for a broadcaster to be there and say it as it is but here, they do not understand it that way. So basically, those are the key challenges affecting the broadcast industry in Nigeria”.

On the frequency allocated to Frequency Modulation (FM) stations to operate, Ugbe said it is very okay as the spectrum limits stations to operate within a given distance or radius but “the only thing I would say is that they should also bring the government owned stations at par with the private owned stations that are limited with a range of transmission. 

“By doing so, they would be providing a level playing field because we are all in the same market unless of course, they would enforce what the code says about government owned stations that they are not supposed to be chasing advertising like the private stations, then you can allow a government station to cover a whole state because they are there for public service to carry messages of government to the nooks and crannies of the state, then you can license them to cover a whole state but as long as they are in the same market as the private stations, then something has to be done to either open up for the private stations to compete with them across the state or bring them at par with the private stations to stay also limited”.

Ugbe whose station is presently engaging deeply with its community, said “broadcasting in Nigeria is evolving. We know that the digitisation process is going on and when that is completed, i think we would see broadcasting at a different level in Nigeria but basically, we have over 500 radio stations in Nigeria and more are coming. For me, my desire is to see broadcasting in Nigeria play side by side broadcasting in the developed world like the U.K and the U.S”.

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