The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has revoked the licenses of 54 radio and television stations that failed to pay their fees within the “mandatory 60-day window”.

The commission also said it will revoke the licenses of 120 stations that have paid their fees but have so far been unable to come on air “within the mandatory two years”.

Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, director-general, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), made this known during a press conference on Monday.

He also noted that the NBC was being owed N5bn by radio and television stations in the country, and announced that the timeline for the payment of outstanding license fees had been extended to March 31.

“Over the past two weeks, I gave directive that the licenses of 54 companies that were issued licenses but had refused to pay their fees within the mandatory 60-day window, be revoked. And those licenses are revoked,” he said.

“There is another list of over 120 licenses that were paid within the mandatory period but were unable to come on air, within the mandatory two years; they are also being processed for revocation. And they will be revoked! Frequencies cannot be held indefinitely by individuals.”

“Stations around Nigeria owe the NBC over N5Billion. Even the statutory act of informing NBC, six months before expiration of licenses and signification of intention to continue as licensees is willfully ignored by stations.

“While every licensee is aware that every license issued by NBC is provisional and could be withdrawn at any point, stations carry on as if they own those licenses and can do as they pretty well please.

“License fees are in arrears; there is no plan by many of these stations to pay; while some even have the temerity to write NBC, the regulatory institution, that the amount they are obliged to pay is too much; consequently, they then tell us how much they are willing to pay, and even adding the time they are going to pay such sums that they have decided to pay.

“Let me re-iterate that all outstanding sums owed the NBC would be collected! We gave a time line of March 15, 2017, for ALL stations owing outstanding license fees to effect payment. After consultations, that time line is being extended to March 31st, 2017.

“I want to affirm that after March 31st, stations that refuse to meet their license fees obligations to the NBC, would be closed down! Period!

“Let me re-assure our colleagues that we do understand that these are difficult economic times in our country, but that cannot be justification for not meeting lawful obligations. Some of these license fees were due even before the economy entered a recession; it means that they had refused to do the right thing even in a period of economic normalcy.”