The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on May 6, 2021, announced that it had fined Channels Television and Inspiration FM radio N5 million each for alleged breach of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code despite criticism that trailed the Commission’s earlier reprimand of Channels TV.
The Commission had earlier queried Channels Television for granting Emma Powerful, a leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), uncensored interviewed on its live programme, Politics Today, April 26, 2021. This was viewed by the generality of Nigerians as attack on media freedom and independence.
The Commission in a letter addressed to Channels TV Managing Director accused the station of promoting content liable to incite hatred and sectionalism by tolerating the IPOB spokesman’s “derogatory, false and misleading statements” which it said is in violation of Sections 3.11.1(b) and 5.4.3 of the Broadcasting Code. The Commission suspended the programme Politics Today.
The NBC also accused Inspiration FM Lagos of allegedly airing a broadcast of IPOB wherein it made “secessionist claims”.
The NBC in a letter by its Acting Director-General, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, said the Sections of the broadcasting Code breached by the stations are “class A” offences which attract the “immediate order of suspension of broadcast services; suspension of licence and immediate shut down”.
Section 3.11.1(b) of the Broadcsting Code says: “the broadcaster shall ensure that no programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity of corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state.”
Quoting the Broadcasting Code, Prof. Idachaba added “(In) 15.5.1: the following penalties shall apply in respect of a breach committed by the broadcaster: light, N200,000 to N500,000; heavy, N500,000 to N4,999,000; severe, N5,000,000.”
According to Idachaba, NBC reviewed the appeals made by both stations and decided to set aside the option of suspension of license.
The NBC Acting DG said: “The NBC has reviewed the appeals and apologies from both stations, and has decided to set aside the option of suspension of license.”
“The commission has, however, directed both stations to pay N5 million penalty each to serve as a deterrent.”
He, warned broadcasters to desist from endangering the security of the nation by giving voice to “terrorist organisations”.