NBC to Sanction Erring Stations

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Emeka Mba

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The National Broadcasting Commission has warned radio and television stations in the country not to break the rules and guidelines for covering political campaigns and airing political advertisements

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Feb. 16, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, is to sanction broadcasting stations in the country that breached the broadcasting code on political advertisement ahead of the February 14 and 28 general elections. Such advertisements, the NBC said, could become counter-productive to the national objective of conducting s peaceful, free and fair election, warning that that it would not hesitate to sanction any station that operates in breach of laid down rules and regulations.

The commission observed that some stations have been broadcasting programmes and advertisements that violate the provisions of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code with respect to decency, truthfulness and fairness, and has written to those stations to desist from such advertisements or face sanctions in line with the provisions of the law.

Emeka Mba, director-general, NBC, who gave the warning  directed all broadcasters to adhere to the provisions of the broadcasting code, especially section 5.2 on political broadcasts, and section 7.6 on political advertising. “We wish to draw the attention of broadcasters particularly to sections 5.2.7 and 5.2.8, which stipulate that a broadcaster shall, in using political material for news, avoid inflammatory and divisive matter in its provocative form, and in adherence to the principles of pluralism, providing equal airtime to all political parties or views, with particular regard to the amount of time devoted to political campaign periods,” he said.

According to Mba, the NBC has been monitoring the activities of broadcasting stations and noted that since the advent of the political campaigns stations have been performing their sacred duty of informing and educating the Nigerian people, conveying the messages of the politicians to the people. “We appreciate that the role of radio and television has gone beyond just reporting its findings on the surveillance of the environment, broadcasting has evolved into a critical factor in promoting social, cultural, and political objectives. That is why the Nigerian Broadcasting Code spelt out the political objectives of broadcasting, which provides the perspectives and guidelines issued to broadcasters for the coverage of elections.”

He said the NBC would join the rest of the nation in working towards violence-free pre-election and post-election seasons, as well as free and fair elections, with the strong belief that broadcasting stations can only contribute to this when all their programmes adhere to the general principles of legality, decency, and truthfulness. “We are in exciting times. Political campaigns are underway and the nation is agog with politicians going around the country trying to persuade the electorate to support them at the polls. This is as it should be. That is the beauty of democracy, but it must be done in line with the provisions of the law, in order to promote good judgement.”

Mba made the remark at a political sensitisation workshop organised by the NBC at the Sultan Maccido Institute of Quran and General Studies, Sokoto. He noted with dismay that some stations had been broadcasting programmes and adverts that were against the provisions of the code. According to him, such programmes and adverts could impede the attainment of peaceful election in the country.

He warned such stations to refrain from airing programmes and adverts that could incite hatred against political opponents, saying the NBC would not hesitate to sanction them. “The NBC can sanction any erring station and the sanction ranges from a warning letters to fines, suspension of a programme or even the broadcasting station and outright revocation of the licence. But each action to be taken is based on the severity of the offence and breach committed by the broadcaster,” Mba said.

Also speaking, Usman Magawata, former director-general, NTA, advised stations to play a neutral role to avoid litigation from aggrieved parties. He emphasised that maintaining neutrality would enable the stations to do their work professionally devoid of sentiments. “A practitioner should endeavour to do things in a right way even if he has an interest in any individual or political party. So, a broadcasting station should play a neutral role and do the work professionally without any sentiment. This will instil confidence in politicians and keep the organisation from litigation,” he said.

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