The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has threatened to sanction Daar Communications Group over the use of social media comments in one of its programmes, Kakaaki, and ‘unprofessional’ conducts by the media house.
The NBC, Nigeria’s broadcast regulatory commission, wants the media house to explain why it should not be sanctioned for broadcasting ‘inciting’ and ‘unfair’ contents.
The commission’s reservations were contained in three separate letters written to the media house recently.
The first letter, signed by Armstrong Idachaba, a professor and the Director, Broadcast Monitoring, was addressed to the Group Managing Director of Daar Communications.
Daar Communications owns Africa Independent Television (AIT) and its radio wing, Raypower FM.
In the letter dated May 27, NBC referred to an October 2018 letter warning the management of Daar Communications to exercise caution in the use of social media comments.
The NBC noted that the media house has refused to heed to its warning and continues to broadcast ‘treasonable comments.’
The commission made specific reference to a May 22 edition of the Kakaaaki Social programme in which ‘a story from an online news platform was read about a proposed declaration of the Sovereign State of Biafra on June 1st 2019.’
According to quotes referenced by NBC, the declaration was made by a group named Niger Delta Republic Fighters which ordered all oil companies to vacate the region before the said date.
NBC said the content is ‘no doubt a call to war and outrightly inciting.’
The commission added that broadcasting such content was a breach of sections 3.1.2, 5.6.2, 5.6.3, 5.6.4 and 0.2.3 (g) of Nigeria’s broadcasting code.
To the effect of its breach, the commission demanded an explanation from Daar Communications on why the media house should not be sanctioned.
“You are hereby, by this letter, requested to explain why the full weight of sanction should not be meted against you for this inflammatory broadcast and the flagrant disregard of your editorial responsibility,” the letter reads.
In the latter part of the letter, NBC cautioned Daar Communications to desist from using ‘media propaganda’ against it (NBC) and the Nigeria police.
Two other letters
Meanwhile, in two other letters, the NBC queried and warned Daar Communications over what it described as a breach of broadcasting rules.
In one of the letters dated May 27, NBC alleged that the media house broadcast a ‘prejudicial’ documentary on Wednesday, May 22, and Thursday, May 23.
The commission alleged that the media house featured a documentary titled ‘The Nigerian judiciary on trial: lessons from Kenya,’ accusing the judiciary of delayed judgment and the electoral umpire, INEC, of hoarding its server result due to rigging.
The NBC considered the broadcast as ‘not only prejudicial but also seen as an intimidation of the judiciary and an attempt to influence the process of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.’
“You are therefore requested (queried) to explain the intent of the broadcast and why sanctions should not be imposed on AIT. Your response should please get to the commission not later than Friday 31st May 2019,” the letter reads.
It is not clear if the media house responded to the query.
In another letter, the station was warned and advised to exercise caution in the discussion of issues pending in court.
This is in reference to what NBC considered ‘one-sided and unfair allegations of news commentary on Justice Bulkachuwa’s membership of the Presidential Petition Tribunal.’
The third letter dated May 22 reads, “Monitoring reports on AIT and Raypower FM indicate that a news commentary replete with unfair allegations against the judiciary was aired from Monday, 20th May, 2019.
“This commentary was aired on the two stations during the week. The broadcast is a contravention of the provisions of the code and extant laws regarding discussion of cases pending in the law courts which could be termed as contempt of court.
“Furthermore, the language used was offensive and unfair on the judiciary. The broadcast is viewed as offensive, unfair and unprofessional, as provisions of Section 1.15.1 of The Nigerian Broadcasting Code was violated.”
Reacting, the founder of DAAR Communications Plc, Raymond Dokpesi, said he would protest the latest move by NBC against his media house.
He described the move as “plots by the All Progressives Congress- led Federal Government” to gag the media and suppress free speech.
The reaction was contained in a statement from his office in Abuja on Tuesday.
Details of the statement was published by Punch.
It noted that Mr Dokpesi would, on Thursday, stage a “one-man demonstration” to the National Assembly after addressing a world press conference at the AIT Complex, Asokoro, Abuja.
“We invite all Nigerians and the international community to note this obvious act of brigandage against freedom of speech and association as clearly expressed in our Constitution.
“AIT and Raypower have not violated any code of broadcasting as alleged by the NBC. The NBC and the government in power are not comfortable with the broadcast industry because of its courageous and dogged stance in informing Nigerians on happenings in the country,” the statement read.