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Nigerian news channel with office in UK under pressure over slow payments

By William Turvill

A Nigerian television news channel, which has offices in London and New York, has been condemned over slow payments to journalists and other freelances.

Arise TV is owned by Nduka Obaigbena (pictured above with former British prime minister Tony Blair and ex-US president George Bush – Reuters). He also owns Nigeria’s This Day newspaper.

Press Gazette has spoken to three well-placed sources who have acknowledged Arise’s slow payments. The National Union of Journalists and broadcast union BECTU are in the process of chasing payments for their members.

In addition, there are two Twitter accounts – @Arisedoesntpay and @AriseSlave – dedicated to reporting on the payments record of the station.

Andy Smith, NUJ vice president, said: “The NUJ has been supporting union members to chase outstanding payments and we continue to encourage Arise TV to pay journalists promptly for work they commission.”

Obaigbena told Press Gazette: "There is indeed a slow payment process." But he said that all bills are being, or will be, paid.

The slow payments, he said, were due to "governmental action", troubles in Nigeria with making payments abroad and "government regulation".

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Obaigbena added: "As the government or central bank releases funds, we make [payments]. We are in a queue like everybody else."

He said: "Everybody in business in Nigeria… is experiencing the downturn…

"What we are doing is we are making payments in little sums to everybody as the moment arises."

He said Arise made some payments last Friday and will make more when possible.

Obaigbena added: "To make sure that we are responsible we have cut costs in the UK to reflect our reality… and paid off historic debt as it's available by government as it's beyond our control. 

"But we are paying, and we will keep paying people, like we paid last week."

He urged those owed money to be "patient" and that payment commitments will be met.


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