Nigeria: NBC to Curb Exploitation of Consumers By Satellite TV Stations

12 December 2019

The regulatory body represented on the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), in conjunction with the National Broadcast Commission, (NBC) has been charged with the responsibility to propose subsidiary legislation to support existing Act for enhanced efficiency and fairness to consumers. It is also to ensure that consumers are not been exploited by Satellite Television station providers.

This was one of the resolutions amongst others reached the inaugural meeting of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami with the NFMC.

At his inaugural meeting as Chairman of the Council, Dr. Pantami, while reinstating the autonomy of the NFMC, in accordance with the provisions of the Act establishing it, faulted the domiciling of the Council as a department under the Ministry, citing Section 30(2) of the Act which expressly states that officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy shall serve as Secretariat to the Council.

This he emphasised, according to a statement signed by Uwa Suleiman (Mrs), Spokesperson to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, does not translate to the Council being reduced to the status of a department within the Ministry, as the independent status of the Council, is clearly maintained in the Act establishing it.

NFMC was established by the Communications Act of 2003, which empowers the body to coordinate and regulate spectrum license allocations, across regional and international borders.

In his maiden address to council members, Pantami disclosed that under his leadership, national interest must supersede sectoral or personal interests, emphasizing that the protection of the consumer is paramount while providing an enabling environment for industry players to thrive within the dictates of the law.

The highlight of the inaugural meeting was the inauguration of the National Frequency Management Council/Nigeria Police Force (NFMC/NPF) Joint Committee on evaluation of 450MHz Police equipment, in line with the provisions of the law empowering the Council to extend membership to competent and qualified persons or organisations that may assist it in the discharge of its duties.

At the end of the meeting, the following resolutions were reached: that the Council should be positioned properly as an autonomous body with the secretariat serviced by officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, as against its current status as a department under the Ministry; and that a Frequency Audit be carried out on all the Spectrum Licenses issued from inception till date, to determine the amount paid and to determine if Spectrum licenses issued were being used for the purposes they have been assigned accordingly; and that the Management of regulatory bodies represented on the Council, particularly, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), should immediately propose subsidiary legislation to support the existing Act, for enhanced efficiency and fairness to the consumers, with regards to payment of Satellite Television stations and exploitation, by some of them.

The meeting which was Dr. Pantami's first as NFMC Chairman was the 48th of the council, and the fourth to be held this year.

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