The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on February 3, 2023, asked Arise Global Media Limited, owners of Arise News TV; and Continental Broadcasting Services Limited, owners of Television Continental (TVC) to pay N2m each as a fine for allegedly breaching the sections of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
In separate letters to the Chief Executive Officers of Arise Global Media Limited and Continental Broadcasting Service Limited, the NBC Director-General, Mallam Balarabe llelah, accused them of violating the Broadcasting Code in their coverage of political campaigns and gave each of them two weeks within which to pay the N2 million penalty.
In the letter to Continental Broadcasting Services Limited, Mallam Ilelah said the NBC monitored its consistent breach of the Nigeria broadcasting code over a period, adding that “the worrisome trend has become a house style on your channel that enjoys national coverage.”
The Commission pointed out that TVC News does not offer equal coverage to other political parties as it gives the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The NBC gave specific instances in which it said TVC breached the Broadcasting Code through its broadcasts. The Commission said on January 6, 2023, at 12:29 pm, the Joint Media Directorate of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, while briefing the media, made the following comments: “Obasanjo and Atiku run a criminal enterprise, an empire of fraud in Abuja. At the same time that Ahmed Bola Asiwaju was toiling hard, beautifully and meticulously to rebuild Lagos, two criminals were stealing money in Abuja at the time…they both stole from the SPV account at that time.”
In another instance, the NBC said, on January 24, 2023, at 03:39 pm, during the APC Presidential Rally in Abia State, the APC Presidential Candidate Bola Tinubu after telling the public to vote APC under the symbol of broom, went on to say: “…You know what you do with the rest of them? They are like lizards, cockroaches and mosquitoes. Just take the broom, wipe them off.”
On the accusation of unequal coverage of the activities of the main opposition, Mallam Illelah said: “On October 10, 2022, your station [TVC] started its news with 17 minutes of APC news and one minute of PDP story with a video clip that did not play.”
Accusing Arise News TV of unprofessional broadcasts, the NBC listed its breaches of the Nigerian broadcasting code to include: its broadcast on January 24, 2023, between 1.00 pm – 2.27 pm when Arise TV aired the Presidential campaign rally of PDP which was held in Delta State, which the Commission said was replete with unfair remarks and mockery of the APC presidential candidate by Dino Melaye.
Specifically, the NBC said at the rally, “Mr. Melaye sang a song ‘…hand dey shake, leg dey shake, baba wey no well, e dey shout emilokan’ he further went on to fall down demonstrating the frailty of the APC presidential candidate.”
The Commission said Arise TV did not only air the programme but repeated the clip of Dino Melaye in a mockery of the APC Presidential candidate in another programme ‘What’s Trending’ anchored by Ojy Okpe.
In addition, the letter to Arise News TV said: “On January 26, 2023, at 9.40am, during the programme Morning Show, a guest, Na’jaatu Muhammed described the Presidential Candidate of APC, Bola Tinubu as mentally deranged without caution from the anchor. The guest had a field day with vituperations against the presidential candidate of the APC.”
The NBC again cited another instance of breach of the broadcast code saying: “On January 31 2023, at 3:30 pm, during the broadcast of the PDP presidential rally in Sokoto State, Dino Melaye referred to the Vice-Presidential candidate of APC, Kashim Shettima as GCOB, meaning Grand Commander of Bandits.”
The Commission accused the television stations of breaching sections 1.10.4; 3.1.2; 3.1.2; 3.3.1(e); 4.2.2 (g); 4.2.2 (g); 4.3.1(e); 5.3.3 (c); 5.3.3 (e); 5.3.3 (f); and 5.5.1 (b) of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, among others.
The NBC ordered the stations to pay the fines within two weeks of the receipt of the letters, warning that the sanction would be graduated if they fail to pay early.