Some Nigerians have taken to various social media platforms to express their views over the fine imposed on 23 radio and television stations across Nigeria for breaches of broadcasting rules set by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.
The NBC spokesperson, Maimuna Jimada, on Tuesday said the stations were punished for hateful speech, vulgar lyrics and unverifiable claims.
The breaches contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in the third quarter of 2017, according to the NBC.
While most people saw the move as an attempt to gag the freedom of the media, others said it is necessary as it helps to check the spread of incendiary comments.
A few of their comments are reproduced below.
“The Nigeria State is imperatively heading to military and unitary systems of government and every well-meaning Nigerian must condemn this very act in which APC led government have introduced, which is to restrict and infringe on the freedom of speech of Nigeria, by going through radio station and television to stop the citizenry exercise their fundamental human rights. This deviant character must be condemned,” a Facebook user, Onovwie Godspower said.
“We didn’t hear these type of news during the Jonathan’s regime but a certain tyrant and dictator in the seat of power now is trying his best to silence everybody at all cost. Everybody was busy saying anything they want during Jonathan without fear of anything, learn to take the heat. If you can’t stand the heat then don’t go near the kitchen,” Scofield Dokubo James said on Facebook.
“This is very good. Many people believe that insulting their leaders and making incisive statements is part of freedom of speech or democracy. This is not so. Freedom and democracy demands responsibility and respect,” another Facebook user said.
A Twitter user, Frank Owo, said the APC government talked its way to power through propaganda, “and now you are talking of hate speech.”
The NBC was mandated by Section 2 subsection (1) of Act 38 of 1999 as amended by Act 55 of 1999 to license, monitor regulate and conduct research in broadcasting in Nigeria. The commission is also tasked with the development and accreditation of mass communication in tertiary and other related institution in the country.
Though the approval of broadcast stations is at the prerogative of the president of the country, the NBC handles the entire process of licensing from the indication of interest, the procurement of application form to the final recommendation for the president approval.
In carrying out its primary function of monitoring broadcast stations in the country, the NBC uses the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
Mrs. Jimada had earlier told PREMIUM TIMES that the code is reviewed every four years, with the help of broadcast stations, members of the public and other stakeholders.
“This code is available to all broadcasters. In fact, when you purchase your application form, the document is part of the documents you will get from the NBC. When you get your license, you sign an undertaking that you have read the code and will abide by it”, she said.
“It contains all the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of broadcasting in Nigeria along with the sanctions you will get if you do what you are not supposed to do. So, there is no new thing the NBC will pull out of the air if you do what you are not supposed to do.”
Nigerian Broadcast Code also stipulates different penalties to be meted out to erring broadcast stations according to classes of infringement committed.
On Wednesday, the spokesperson said there ”will be higher sanctions if erring stations fail to comply with the fine imposed on them.”