It Was Only A Warning, We Didn’t Suspend Channels TV – NBC
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has clarified it’s stance on the reported suspension meted on Channel TV’s Politics Today program.
According to Premium Times, the NBC stated it only warned Channels TV over the live broadcast of an interview with a leader of the outlawed Independent People of Biafra and not an outright suspension of the station’s operations.
Recall that the NBC faced heavy criticism from Nigerians since Monday, for allegedly suspending Channels TV’s Politics Today.
The move was perceived by Nigerians as an attack on media freedom and independence.
In a letter addressed to Channels TV Managing Director on Monday, the NBC accused the station of promoting content liable to incite hatred and sectionalism by tolerating the IPOB spokesman’s “derogatory, false and misleading statements” which is in violation of Sections 3.11.1(b) and 5.4.3 of broadcasting Act.
“For obviously breaching the above provisions of the Law, your station remains liable to sanctions provided in section 15 of the Code which prescribes among others – suspension of broadcast license and a fine of 5 million,” the NBC said in the letter signed by its Director-General, Armstrong Idachaba.
Nigerians had interpreted the letter to mean Channels TV had been suspended and fined by the NBC for broadcasting the interview.
However, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, the commission’s Public Affairs Director, Franca Aiyetan, said the letter is a regulatory instrument to warn the TV station against the repetition of the controversial interview held on its Politics Today programme on Sunday night.
She said the letter is a “regulatory instrument and these letters go to stations to either caution, warn or draw their attention to what they are doing right or wrong and when this is done twice, what follows is fine.”
“It is actually mischievous that it comes on air and what the letter was saying was calling Channels attention to a particular programme that the commission felt was not handled professionally or ethically and calling their attention to the gravity of the offence. The quote says if you do this you are likely to be shut down with a fine and afterwards it says desist from that programme. It didn’t say stop that programme.
“The letter was drawing their attention to the gravity of the programme they held and they were advised to take it or stop it.
“It was not a malicious thing. It was a hype; you can see that Channels is still up carrying some of NBC’s programmes. It is hyped because of the tension in the society and NBC is saying that the duty of journalism, especially broadcasting stations, is to douse this tension rather than heightening it. That is what the ethics say.”
This is not the first time Channels TV would receive such a letter from the NBC. Channels was among the three Nigerian TV stations issued a sanction letter at the peak of October 2020 #EndSARS protests. The station was accused of transmitting “unverified and unauthenticated social media sources” liable to aggravate tension during the protest.
“That was exactly what happened during the #EndSARS protests but some stations maliciously went on to say they were fined because they covered the #EndSARS protest. They were not fined because they covered the protest but because they hyped the violence that followed. When you show violence as happened in Kano or Rivers, the people in Kogi and Lagos will follow suit and everyday you show us new violence, before you know it everyone will be frightened,” Ms Aiyetan said.
“We are saying you can help us to douse it rather than hyping it.”
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