New Broadcast code gulps first victim over Obadiah revelation-Nigeria Info 99.3 FM station fined N5m
The Nigeria Info 99.3 FM station has become the first victim of the new hate speech code of The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) slammed on broadcasting organizations last July.
The NBC despite criticisms that the new code was forced on broadcasting organizations without dialogue, Thursday fined Nigeria Info 99.3 FM the maximum sum of five million naira for unprofessional conduct.
According to a statement signed and released by the management of NBC, the action was due to the radio’s programme that aired on Monday, August 10.
It read in part; ”NBC noted with grave concern, the unprofessional conduct of Nigeria Info 99.3FM, Lagos, in the handling of the Programme, “Morning Cross Fire”, aired on August 10, 2020, between 8.30am and 9.00am.
”The station provided its platform for the guest, Dr. Mailafia Obadiah, to promote unverifiable and inciting views that could encourage or incite to crime and lead to public disorder.
”The Commission, again, wishes to reiterate that Broadcasters hold Licenses in trust for the people. Therefore, no Broadcast Station should be used, to promote personal or sectional interests at the expense of the people.
”Dr. Mailafia Obadia’s comments on the “Southern Kaduna Crisis”, were devoid of facts and by broadcasting same to the public, Nigeria Info 99.3FM, is in violation of the following sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code:
3.1.1 No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity;
3.1.2 Broadcasting shall promote human dignity, therefore, hate speech is prohibited;
3.3.1 (a) The broadcaster shall ensure that any information given in a programme, in whatever form, is accurate;
18.104.22.168(b) The Broadcaster shall ensure that all sides to any issue of public
interest are equitably presented for fairness and balance;
3.11.1(a) The broadcaster shall ensure that language or scene likely to encourage or incite to crime, or lead to disorder, is not broadcast;
3.11.1(b) No programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state;
5.4.1(f) The Broadcaster shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
Consequent on these provisions and in line with the amendment of the 6thedition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Nigeria Info 99.3FM Lagos, has been fined the sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira), only.
This is expected to serve as a deterrent to all other broadcast stations in Nigeria who are quick to provide platform for subversive rhetoric and the expositions of spurious and unverifiable claims, to desist from such.
The Commission wishes to put it on record that it will not hesitate to suspend the Broadcast License of broadcast stations that continue to breach the Code.
Stations are, by this statement, admonished to desist forthwith, from airing unwholesome content, or be ready to face appropriate sanctions”.
Apart from the fact that the Department of State Security (DSS) invited Obadiah to verify his pronouncements which has not been made public, Governors of the North East have called on the Federal Government to investigate the claims.
Prominent Broadcasters including former Director General of the NTA, Mr. Tonnie Iredia spontaneously criticized the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed reading the code stressing it shows that the NBC which is statutory meant to independently moderate broadcasting in Nigeria was no more independent as stakeholders in the industry were not consulted which may attract litigations against the NBC.
Media watchers have seen the 6th Broadcast code as the Federal Government infringement on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the press.