The Federal Government has blamed the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) for alleged delaying its plan to support the newspaper industry to overcome the impact of the raging COVID -19 pandemic.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who gave the government’s position in Abuja on Monday, disclosed that the government met with NPAN a couple of times and had agreed that the organisation should make submissions on how the government could help.
Mohammed stated that till date, no such submissions had been received from NPAN.
The minister spoke with State House Correspondents after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House.
He said the government planned to support the various strata of the media industry, cutting across print and electronic.
Mohammed explained, “Government has done a lot 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 am 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 also spoke government’s plan to invest heavily in the creative industry generally, as Buhari had particular interest in seeing the industry grow.
The minister explained, “This government is putting a lot of emphasis and promoting the creative industry, which is tourism, which is hospitality industry, which is the music industry, which is the film industry, which is publishing, which is broadcasting.
“We will continue to support this industry and we have Mr President’s support. He was quite excited about the portrait because he’s able to see what kind of jobs can be created through this cultural festivals.”
Asked about his mission to the Villa, the information minister replied, “I came today to make a presentation of a portrait of the Argungu Festival to Mr President.
“You’ll recall that sometimes in February this year, after almost ten years of hiatus, the Argungu Festival made a comeback.
“The Argungu Festival is one of the two United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)-recognised festivals and it is on the UNESCO list of heritages.”
Recall that the the Media industry has had its own hit of the COVID -19 pandemic.
Many media houses have had to either cut pay or lay off employees in the race to stay afloat.
Copy sales have also dropped drastically, while advertising revenues nose-dived in the last four months.