The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), has called on the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to rein in the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as, according to BON, the Commission continues to display flagrant violations of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code in light of the recent developments in the broadcast sector.
In a letter written to the Minister, signed by BON Executive Secretary, Dr. Yemisi Bamgbose, BON, noted that NBC has refused to follow its rules as stipulated in the broadcasting code on the investigation of infractions as well as the imposition of fines on broadcast houses on alleged infractions.
BON, in the letter, cited Section 143.l (a) (b) (c) (d) which stipulates how to handle complaints as well as Section 15.3.1 (a) (b) (c) which stipulates categories of fines and what constitute infractions in each category.
It explained that the NBC provides no opportunity for broadcasters to see the complaints against them nor does it allow any form of explanation, nor follow due process in arriving at judgments. The letter pointed out that this was the situation for multiple allegations of “severe” infractions levied against Channels Television, Daar Communications, Arise TV, and Daily Trust Television among many others.
It went on to explain the recent case of the imposition of a N5m fine on Channels Television for an alleged “severe” infraction committed during a live interview programme titled Politics Today which featured Mr Datti Baba Ahmed, the Vice-Presidential candidate of Labour Party and anchored by Mr Seun Okinbaloye in its episode of Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
The fine, according to BON, was imposed without the NBC substantiating the alleged infraction nor stating the area of code violated by the station.
BON described NBC’s behaviour as absurd stating that: “NBC as a regulator, could on a petition from a campaign organisation of a political party impose illegal fines on broadcast station without employing all avenues to investigate the complaint nor give room for defence from the station so accused.”
BON expressed concern about the arbitrary and high-handed attitude of the NBC towards broadcast stations, which it said is almost suffocating the broadcast media in the country. The letter stated that broadcast stations and professionals no longer trust the professional judgement of the NBC when it comes to allegations of infractions and imposition of fines.
BON therefore urged the Minister of Information and Culture as the supervising minister to urgently call NBC to order in order to avoid the total decimation of the hitherto respected regulatory body. BON reiterated that it is not averse to the discipline of erring stations, but it is advocating for the following of due process as jointly agreed by all stakeholders.