National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to rescind its decision to impose fines of N5 million each on a television station and three pay TV platforms for allegedly undermining Nigeria’s national security by carrying documentaries on banditry in Nigeria, saying the regulator’s action is wrong and unjustifiable in a democratic society.
The NBC announced in a statement by its Director General, Mallam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, that it had imposed sanctions of N5 million each on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV; TelCom Satellite Limited (TSTV); and NTA Startimes Limited for carrying a documentary by the BBC Africa Eye titled “Bandits Warlords of Zamfara”, which the Commission claimed glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security in Nigeria. It said it had also fined Trust-TV Network Limited N5 million for its documentary titled: “Nigeria’s Banditry – The Inside Story”. It accused them of contravening the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Sixth Edition, especially Paragraphs 3.1.1, 3.12.2 and 3.11.2.
The Commission warned that the imposed penalties on these Broadcast Media platforms and Station were to be remitted not later than August 30, 2022 threatening that failure to comply will lead to the imposition of a higher sanction as provided in the Code.
It enjoined broadcasters to be instruments of national unity and asking them to desist from falling into antics of using their platforms to promote and glamorize subversive elements and their activities.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had earlier threatened to sanction BBC and Trust TV owned by Media Trust Ltd for airing the documentaries which the government alleged glorify and fuel terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.
Alhaji Mohammed made the threat in Abuja on July 28, 2022, saying the Federal Government was aware of the unprofessional documentary by the BBC Africa Eye, where interviews were granted to bandit warlords and terror gangs, thereby promoting terror in the country. The Minister condemned the BBC for not upholding the same standards and tenets as they would have done in the United Kingdom (UK).
Alhaji Mohammed also condemned Trust TV for using its platform to grant interviews to a bandit kingpin, Shehu Rekeb, thereby promoting the activities of terrorists.
According to the Minister, both outlets, by their actions, have become accomplices to terrorists and bandits in the name of reporting. The Minister said the appropriate regulatory body was already looking at the infractions and appropriate sanctions would be meted out to both platforms.
Alhaji Mohammed said: “There is a regulatory body regulating broadcasting, which is the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and they are also aware of these two incidents. They are looking at which part of the Broadcasting Code has been violated by the BBC and Trust TV. Media is the oxygen that terrorists and bandits use to breathe.
“When otherwise reputable platforms like BBC can give their platform to terrorists showing their faces as if they are Nollywood stars, it is unfortunate.
“I want to assure them that they will not get away with it, appropriate sanctions will be meted to both the BBC and the Trust TV,’’ the Minister said.