TOP 20 CEOs exclusive interview with Malam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, Director General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
How has the commission faired in respect of regulating the industry?
In 2017, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission [NBC] celebrated its 25th anniversary. We used the opportunity to engage Nigerians and shared what we have done in the last 25 years. NBC has set up many private broadcasting stations in Nigeria. We have many radio stations, television stations and satellite based channels. With the digital switch process, which began in 2016, we have not only changed the technical and technological basis in broadcasting, we have opened up several opportunities for new channels.
We licenced many stations and we have 24-hour monitoring service through which we monitor all broadcasting stations in Nigeria. We also regulate the operators and we have sanctioned those who have failed to comply with our regulations. The role of NBC is very vital in the industry because without proper monitoring we would have a faulty situation in the country and this is not what Nigerians desire. NBC is an institution that is free. We abide by the law. We are responsible to the people by providing education and entertainment.
How many stations have you licensed?
Few weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the licences of over 115 broadcasting stations. This shows that we will continue to do our work as a commission. Many people are interested in broadcasting. We have about 24 new community stations, 13 campus radio stations and we also have some radio license for some public institutions.
What are the processes of obtaining a license?
If you want to get license for your broadcasting service, you would write a letter to the commission. We would carry out proper due diligence to ensure the necessary steps have been taken and ensure that the technical requirements are met, which is the major point. We will then proceed by forwarding the license to the Minister and the President for approval.
Specifically, which of your department carries out the licensing?
There’s a National Frequency Management Council of Nigeria. It is in charge of the usage of frequency and this is where the licensing is administered. Frequency is allocated for some security outfits, broadcasting, and telecommunications. It is necessary to manage the usage of frequency and that’s why we have this body.
We need technology, for instance, broadband technology, which offers opportunity to carry out internet TV and to convey all kinds of content. With digital broadcasting opportunities are opened. It’s all about the convergence of technology and its impact on communication and broadcasting. In different parts of the world, government takes a decision on how each industry is to be regulated.
What is the update on the digital switch over?
We have completed the digital mapping. We have a definite time now for the conclusion of the digital switch over. The government has committed significantly to ensuring we achieve success in this regard. A plan is being worked out presently where government plans to release fund of about N15 billion between now and December 2018, which will take the digital switch over forward.
There’s also strategic imperative for the DSO, which will give room to creation of more television stations and this will provide and generate employment opportunities for the youths. Content creation is very important and it’s the essence of broadcasting. It will give opportunity for companies to provide programmes for television station.
NBC has been perceived to support government that is in power. As 2019 elections approaches, is NBC involve in partisan as a regulator?
The 2015 elections were arguably the most contentious and most hard fought elections in Nigeria political history. Many institutions were involved in partisan positions in 2015 including the NBC. One of the things I did when I was appointed as NBC boss in 2016 was to hire a consultancy firm to carry out a study on how NBC operated in the 2015 elections. That report has formed the backbone of some of the actions we are taking.
We would hold election validation exercise with the broadcast house, INEC, Police, National Human Rights Commission, the executive and legislature. The goal is to examine how these national bodies operated during the 2015 elections in order to forestall a repeat in 2019. In reference to the elections in Ekiti and Osun states, we have been fair. We will continue to do our work professionally. One thing is that government do not interfere in how NBC is run at all and the federal government respects our independence.
Where have you worked before your present appointment?
I have worked in broadcasting and journalism for the last 42 years. I have worked in Radio Nigeria, Radio France International, BBC World Service. I am the first General Manager of Kwara State Television. I have worked with Daily Trust and Vanguard newspapers. I have professional and academic background in order to do this job well. I understand the work more than when I started. I know what to do to make things better. I am always reading, which has really enriched me.
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