UNVERIFIED REPORT: NBC Sanctions AIT, Channels, Arise TV As SERAP Kicks

By Abbah John, Abuja

The (NBC) has imposed N3 million sanction each on AIT, Channels and Arise News television stations, for alleged violation of broadcasting code in reporting the #EndSARS protests.

NBC Acting Director-General, Armstrong Adachaba, made the disclosure at a news conference on Monday in Abuja.

Mr Idachaba said the sanction would serve as a deterrent to broadcasters who did not verify news stories before they broadcast.

He said the commission was concerned about the professional misdemeanour of some broadcasting stations in the past couple of days.

“In line with the provision of section 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which states that the broadcaster shall be held liable for any breach of the code emanation from the use of material from User Generated Sources, the commission, therefore, sanctioned Arise TV, Channels TV and AIT in line with the provision of the broadcasting code.

“Channels Television, Arise TV and AIT especially continued to transmit footages obtained from unverified and unauthenticated social media sources.

“No doubt, these pictures stimulated anger and heightened the violence that was witnessed during the #EndSARS crisis.

“If you escalate the violation that have emanated from the misuse of social media sources by broadcasting it will escalate the sanction.

“According to the provision of the law, we can comfortably shut them down because what they are doing is capable of the breakdown of law and order.

“No responsible country will sit down and allow any form of media to bring down the country.

“Look at the level of damage and killings that happened on account of the unverified the unverified news report.

“In line with the provision of the code section B which is heavy fine between N500, 000 to N5 million, we will communicate that to the affected stations depending on the magnitude of breaches.

Dangote adbanner 728x90_2 (1)

“But none of them will pay less than N2 to N3 million and any further breach will led to the withdrawal of licence,’’ Mr Idachaba said.

The acting DG cautioned broadcasters against airing materials that could embarrass individuals, organisations or cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the society.

“We believe that the whole country has now seen why the spurious and recklessness on the social media must not be patronised by the mainstream traditional media.’’

Mr Idachaba used the occasion to condemn the assault and intimidation of media houses.

He said the burning of TVC Lagos and the brief closure of Channels TV Lagos were worrisome indicators of mob treat to the freedom of the press.

According to him, no nation can grow when the citizens muzzle and intimidate its press.

In the same vein, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) has “condemned the unconstitutional and illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC] on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] purportedly over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.”

Reacting, SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “This action by the NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The NBC should drop the fines and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom. We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.”

The organisation said: “This is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression, and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information and the NBC must immediately withdraw the decision.”

The statement, read in part: “Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information. The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests, and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.”

“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role. The NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”

“President Muhammadu Buhari should caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses and to respect the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

Share
Share this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *