The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigeria’s broadcast sector regulator, fined 67 broadcast stations, comprising radio and television stations, a total of N11.475 Million for 86 incidents of alleged violation of the provisions of the National Broadcasting Code between October and December 2017.
The stations were fined N500,000 for five incidents; N300,000 for one incident; N250,000 for two incidents; N200,000 for 5 incidents; N100,000 for 68 incidents; and N75,000 for five incidents of breaches against the broadcasting code.
The details and breakdown of the stations sanctioned and the offences for which they were sanctioned released by the NBC shows that the offences were committed in nine of the zones to which it divides Nigeria for contraventions in news, phone-in, infomercial, advert, and musical programmes as well as unresolved technical issue.
A breakdown of the sanctions shows that 15 stations were fined for a total of 19 infractions comprising of 14 for radio and five for TV in the Abuja Zone. The NBC sanctioned two radio stations for four infractions in the Benin Zone. In the Enugu Zone, 15 stations were fined for 20 breaches comprising of 16 offences committed by radio and four by TV stations. In Ibadan Zone, eight stations were sanctioned for 12 violations.
In Jos zone, one station was sanctioned while in Kaduna zone, nine stations were sanctioned for 12 incidents of breaches made up of 9 in radio and 3 in radio/TV. Three stations: two radio and one TV stations were sanctioned in the Lagos zone; three radio stations in Maiduguri Zone were sanctioned while in the Uyo Zone, 11 stations were sanctioned for 12 incidents of breaches of the NBC Code involving 10 in radio and two in TV.
The stations were accused of various offences including playing musicals with vulgar lyrics; broadcasting unverifiable claims to cure various sicknesses and diseases; advertisement of Lotto without stating terms and conditions; endorsement of sponsor by presenter; relay of foreign news station in its entirety; lack of aviation warning light; broadcasting political campaign before stipulated time; and broadcast of trado-medic infomercials with claims to treat serious diseases.
Other offences listed by the NBC include broadcast of violent and obscene foreign movie at family belt; unverifiable miracle claims; alcoholic advertisement before stipulated time; voicing of political jingle by presenters; use of superlatives in advertisements; use of hateful and incriminating speech; political advertisement less than 24 hours to election; and indecent attire by a newscaster exposing her cleavage.
Chapter 15.1 of the NBC Code which deals with the sanction process and procedure says: “A Broadcaster shall not breach any Provision of the [NBC] Act, The Code and other rules and regulations made by the Commission from time to time. Pursuant to Sections2(1) (n) and 21 of the Act, the Commission shall apply sanctions for any breach of the Act, The Code or any other Regulation as may be issued by the Commission from time to time.”
The NBC Code has three classes of sanctions. Class ‘A’ sanction involves immediate sanction for breach which may include immediate order of suspension of broadcast services; suspension of licence and immediate shut down/seal up of transmitter; or revocation of licence, seizure and forfeiture of transmitting equipment.
Class ‘B’ sanction involves [written] warning to remedy the breach within a reasonable time frame, failing which a penalty shall apply while Class ‘C’ sanction involves verbal admonition to remedy the breach within 24hours. Failure to comply with the warning in Class ‘C’ sanction consequently attracts penalty.
It is however not clear from the report issued by the NBC if the sanctions were based on complaints from members of the public or if it acted on its own initiative in some or all of the cases and whether the Commission followed the complaints handling procedure contained in Chapter 14.3 titled “Handling Complaints” in the current edition of the Code.