Media advocacy groups have knocked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for imposing a N5 million fine on Channels Television without due process.
The NBC imposed the fine on the station on March 31 for broadcasting the comment of Labour Party (LP) vice presidential candidate Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed that swearing in Bola Tinubu as President would be the end to democracy in Nigeria.
A joint statement issued by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) Executive Director Edetaen Ojo International Press Centre (IPC) Executive Director Lanre Arogundade urged the NBC to reverse the fine and provide an opportunity for the station to defend itself.
“For the umpteenth time, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has acted arbitrarily in the purported exercise of its powers as the regulatory authority for the broadcast sector in Nigeria,” the statement said.
“Assuming without conceding that Channels TV erred in the management of the said interview, it was still pertinent for NBC to have heard their side of the story. In failing to do so, NBC acted unfairly and unjustly as it based its heavy-handed decision on the claims of one side only.”
NBC can’t be accuser, prosecutor, and judge in a case
“NBC has in this instance again exercised quasi-judicial powers injudiciously, by constituting itself to the prosecutor and the judge over a case brought before it by a third party.
“In previous instances, it has also additionally been the accuser,” the statement added, per Vanguard.
“It must be stressed that Mr. Bayo Onanuga is not just anybody. He speaks for the in-coming president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Ordinarily, this should have informed the need for the NBC to act more cautiously instead of exposing itself to the accusation that it has become the ruling government or ruling party’s willing tool to suppress press freedom.
“Even if, as the NBC claims, it acted based on its own observation, it was still imperative for it to allow Channels Television to respond to the allegations, especially since that made it the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge.
“We wish to reiterate that the fundamental principles that ought to guide the regulation of broadcasting and related activities are the ones that advance the public interest and are investment friendly both of which have been discarded in the handling of the petition.”