Despite widespread criticism that trailed its earlier reprimand of Channels TV for granting leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has finally asked Channels Television to pay a fine of N5 million for breaching the broadcast code.
The commission’s acting Director-General, Armstrong Idachaba, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
According to him, the broadcast stations were fined for infractions of the Nigeria Broadcasting codes 3.11.1(b) and 5.4.3 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
Recall that the Commission had last week queried Channels Television after Emma Powerful, a leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was interviewed on its live programme, ‘‘Politics Today’’, on Monday, April 26th.
Following the news of its action, NBC faced wide condemnation by many Nigerians who viewed the alleged suspension of Channels TV by NBC as an attack on media freedom and independence.
The NBC boss also explained that Inspiration FM had in its World Report of May 2 featured the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra making secessionist claims in breach of 3.11.1(b) and 5.4.3 of the Code.
In arriving at the fine, Idachaba said the NBC reviewed the appeals and apologies from both stations and decided to set aside the option of suspension of licence.
“The NBC has reviewed the appeals and apologies from both stations, and has decided to set aside the option of suspension of licence.
“The Commission has, however, directed both stations to pay N5 million penalty each to serve as deterrent.”
What Do The Codes Stipulate?
Idachaba said “Section 3.11.1(b), the Broadcaster shall ensure that no programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
Section 5.4.3, in reporting conflict situations, the broadcaster shall perform the role of a peace agent by adhering to the principle of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.”
Idachaba said the violations of the identified sections, being a `Class A’ offence, attracts sanctions in section 15.2.1 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which provides the following:
“Immediate order of suspension of broadcast services; suspension of licence and immediate shut down and seal up of transmitter, revocation of licence, seizure and forfeiture or transmitting equipment
“(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.”