Arise limps on against the odds much longer?

Arise News, the Nigerian owned news channel based in London, continues to limp on with a cycle of repeated news bulletins amidst further serious allegations about the channel's owner and calls for Arise News to be taken off the air.

Owner Nduka Obaigbena is embroiled in a Nigerian corruption scandal over the misappropriation of money. The latest scandal follows years of unrest among his staff over non-payment of bills and wages.

After a spell off air over the New Year, the channel has struggled to keep broadcasting since it returned on the 11th January, with the channel crashing back off air on the 14th. Contrary to numerous news reports currently circulating, Arise News did return on air over the weekend and is currently live on Sky channel 519 and free-to-air satellite. Current US programming appears to have been suspended, coinciding with reports that US-based staff have not been paid.

The Independent revealed late on Sunday that a High Court winding up petition against Arise News has been brought by a British TV company because of non-payment of debts. The channel also owes news agencies for the cost of supplying pictures to the network.

As a516digital reported first in October, even regulator Ofcom failed to receive payment of its annual fees, threatening the channel's broadcast licence. During 2015, the channel repeatedly fell off air, or ended up broadcasting pre-recorded and looped programmes for days on end, and at one point was kicked out of a studio complex in central London, forcing it to return to its original home, New Zealand House.

How much longer the channel will manage to stay on air is very much uncertain. Broadcasting unions have been advising members to avoid working for the channel and are involved in legal action against Arise News in order to recoup payments.

2016 Timeline:
  • New Year Arise News suspends programmes - tells viewers it will be back on the 7th January, as reported by a516digital
  • 7th Jan The channel fails to return - the on-screen caption now advises viewers it will now be back on 11th January.
  • 11th Jan Arise News returns on air from its studios at New Zealand House - minus its famous A-shaped news desk.
  • 14th Jan The channel crashes off air again
  • 15th Jan Back on air...

The state of the channel:
  • Frequently looped news programming from London.
  • Lengthy chats between presenters and correspondents in the studio, very little or no traditional reports.
  • Limited range of international news and news footage.
  • Arise News is frequently broadcasting something different to the programme listed on the Electronic Programme Guide.
  • US coverage is sparse and when it does air often consists of repeats of its Arise 360 Entertainment show, which only recently returned to Arise News after issues with its US operations, albeit with a very basic on-screen set-up than before.
  • Advertising generally consists of the same 3 or 4 adverts for various African banks.
  • The copyright strap at the end of news programmes still refers to 2015.
  • As a516digital reported first on 26th October, Arise News was put on notice for failing to pay its fees to regulator Ofcom, which could force the channel off the air.
  • The website is not updated; the live stream is broken.

What's with the owner, Nduka Obaigbena?
  • For years, the flamboyant owner of Arise News has been gaining a reputation for not paying his staff, while courting attention with major international players.
  • He's now caught in a scandal in Nigeria over the misappropriation of money that was due to fund the fight against terrorists in the north of the country.
  • Before Christmas, a Nigerian court placed restrictions on the accounts of those suspected of fraud. Insiders say this is currently the real reason why he can't pay staff at the moment, although there have been other reasons cited for previous non-payments over the past few years.
  • On the 8th January 2016, 1 day after the failed return of Arise News after a suspension of programmes over the New Year, Mr Obaigbena claimed in a staff email that "foreign exchange was being rationed" in Nigeria, making it hard for him to pay staff.  Staff were told to expect payments for September and October's work during January, and even offered upfront payments to staff willing to return to work from 11th January 2016.

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