NBC Suspends Radio Programme, Fines Station N5 Million for Alleged Breach of Broadcasting Code

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Balarabe Ilelah
NBC’s Director-General

For discussing the controversial extension of the appointment of the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Rufai Abubakar, on its programme ”Idon Mikiya”, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on January 28, 2022, announced that it had fined Vision Media Services Limited, operators of Vision FM radio in Abuja the sum of N5 million, alleging the discussion breached section 39(3) (b) of the 1999 Constitution and the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.

In addition to the fine, NBC suspended ‘Idon Mikiya’ for six months for alleged outright violation of the broadcasting code.

The suspension was contained in a letter signed by NBC’s Director-General, Balarabe Ilelah with the subject: “Prejudicial Content on Idon Mikiya: Suspension Order,” and addressed to the Managing Director of Vision Media Services Limited, Abuja.

According to the letter, the suspension order takes effect from January 28, 2022.

Ilelah described the content of the programme aired on January 5 as a breach of the nation’s security apparatus.

The letter said the NBC monitored the broadcast of the programme, Idon Mikiya, on January 5, 2022, on Vision FM and Farin Wata TV, with concern.

It said: “Your discussion of issues, including appointments at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) constitutes a breach of the provisions of Section 39(3) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which imposes restrictions on matters concerning Government Security Services or Agencies established by law.”

The NBC claimed that transmitting the trade secrets or other issues regarding a national security agency amounted to an act prejudicial to National Security contrary to the cited constitutional provisions.

The NBC recalled that it had several times invited the management of Vision FM on issues of balance, fairness and presenter bearing opinion, which were violations of the country’s Broadcasting Code.

The commission warned that failure by Vision FM management to comply with the suspension order would attract a higher penalty.

The management of Vision FM Media Services has however told the NBC that it did not violate any law to warrant the suspension of its programme, ‘Idon Mikiya’. The station said the discussion about the qualifications for appointment at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) does not constitute a breach of section 39(3) (b) of the 1999 Constitution as claimed by the commission.