Chances Brightens On FG Palliative For the Media

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The chances for the expected palliatives from the government to the media amid the devastating COVID-19 pandemic on media business have brightened as the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN is responding to the Federal Government directive to send in a submission.

Media business had taken a hit, particularly during the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, as the media, unlike many organizations remained on the frontlines, alongside medical personnel, covering and reporting the contagion. By the time the government eased the lockdown the damage had been done, forcing many media outfits to adopt cost-cutting measures such as half pay for staff, downsizing, forced leave, and lay-off.

To halt the ugly trend, the NPAN, the Nigeria Guild of Editors, NGE and the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, appealed to the government for some form of support.

The Federal Government first responded by offering the broadcast media some form of financial rebate and promised to assist the print media later.

Speaking during the week on the readiness of the Federal Government to offer that assistance, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed urged the NPAN to come forward with a submission on how government could help the industry deal with the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister made the disclosure when he addressed State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

He said: “Government has done a lot in the media, especially the broadcast industry, during this pandemic. The first thing we did was to give a waiver of two months payment of license fees to all broadcast houses between May and July, after which we gave an amnesty as 60 percent discount or debt forgiveness, for all broadcast houses, except the Pay TVs, and also slashed by 30 percent the licensing fees because of the COVID-19.

I also met with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, we met virtually and I’m still waiting for them to come and make their submissions.

Definitely, the government is willing to look into the hardships and the challenges the media is facing and within our means to see how best we can intervene. I’m still waiting for the NPAN to come back to us to see what we can do to ameliorate the situation,” he said.