The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), has warned that the lingering fuel scarcity in the country may force broadcast stations to shut down operations very soon.
This warning came as a result of the increase in costs of operation following the high cost of petrol and diesel.
The Executive Secretary of BON, Dr Yemisi Bamgbose, said in a statement isued on Monday that if nothing was done to immediately reverse the current trend, the stations may be left with no other option than to cease operation.
He noted that this would open the media space up for fake news.
The body stated that the rising costs of fuel and diesel has created huge shortfall for most stations thereby causing staff salaries being delayed.
It mentioned that the role of the broadcast stations as the most reliable source for information, entertainment and public enlightenment, is under serious threat due to the biting economic situation.
Broadcast stations, through their programming, help to maintain stability, security and peace in the country, which makes it highly important to keep them afloat, BON added.
The statement read, “There is a lingering scarcity of petroleum products and diesel, which fuels the generating sets of these organisations, has more than doubled in price over the last four months.
The value of the Naira has tumbled so badly while remaining very scarce affecting the repairs and replacement of broadcast equipment, all of which are imported.
“The National Broadcasting Commission’s levy of 2.5 % on turnover (not profit) outside of Station License fees, Federal Statutory taxes, State and Local Government taxes and Levies combine to impose a huge burden on the retained revenues of Broadcast Licensees.
“All broadcast stations (Radio and Television, Private and Public) are supported by the same pool of advertisers and while broadcast stations are increasing in number, the advertising spend has been reducing over the last ten years, owing to the dwindling economy, and this has adversely affected the income of Broadcast Organisations even as operating costs are increasing daily.
“Radio and Television stations typically need approximately 500,000 to 700,000 and 700,000 to 1,000,000 daily to run generators, which have become their main sources of power supply, to maintain their transmissions and keep the equipment at the optimal temperatures necessary for the efficient performance and sustaining the projected lifespan of their equipment.
“Broadcast media, being the source that public turn to for authenticating breaking news, must gather information, produce programmes and transmit same to keep the public informed and entertained. With diesel costs averaging more than N700 per litre and having to resort to buying petrol, from the black market, at more than N2000 per litre, Broadcast Organisations are recording such huge deficits that have resulted in staff salaries being delayed.
“These issues have to be addressed urgently to avoid the total shutdown of operations by Broadcast Organisations, most of whom have resorted to reducing transmission hours.
“Broadcast organisations that are, and have been for a while now, struggling to keep their stations on air are doing so in order to ensure unfettered access to verified and authentic information which helps to avoid the chaos that could arise from Fake News which could lead to public disorder.
“If the issues raised above are not addressed immediately, it portends grave consequences for the Nation as accurate, verified and information dissemination, public enlightenment and entertainment provided by conventional media organisations might no longer be available giving way to the uninhibited proliferation of fake news and unverified information.”