No fewer than 25 broadcast stations have received penalties from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for breaking the law regarding coverage of the general elections in 2023.
16 additional broadcast stations have received final warnings from the commission for a variety of violations.
This was said by NBC’s Director-General, Balarabe Ilelah, during a press conference held on Tuesday in Abuja prior to the elections for the State Houses of Assembly and governor on March 18.
He claims that while 16 stations have received a final warning, NBC sanctioned 25 stations during the monitoring of the 2023 presidential election.
Also, one station was sanctioned for broadcasting the results of the election before the Independent National Electoral Commission announced the results which contravene Section 5.33 of the NBC code.
He also said 17 stations were sanctioned for broadcasting partisan party content after the prescribed 24-hour stoppage time by NBC, while four stations have been sanctioned for divisive comments.
Ilelah said, “In the course of our monitoring, the commission observed, with dismay, that some broadcast stations allowed their platforms to be used by some guests, callers, and analysts to score unhealthy political points inimical to our corporate existence.
“Ethnic and religious profiling became awfully rampant. Invectives and counterblasts were thrown freely by guests on the platform of broadcast stations at the detriment of the Nigerian people.
“Subversive discussions and reckless comments, capable of tearing us apart as a people were broadcast freely without proper gatekeeping. Ethics and professionalism were thrown overboard.
“The commission wishes to remind you that we have one country. And if we pave way for anarchy, we will all be affected. We are only in business because we have peace. Our diversity should be our strength, our assets, our power. We must guard this jealously. History shows that all civil wars ever fought by people of the same race, started in the media.
“When those who should dish out information become biassed and pitch camp with different groups, division is heightened.
He disclosed that broadcast stations have a duty to protect the nation’s unity and punctuate diversity as a distinctive mark of pride and promote sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
“We expect broadcast stations to exercise freedom of expression as agents of society, not for any personal or promote sectional rights, privileges and further their own or that of their proprietors, relatives, or supporters as highlighted in Section 3.1.3 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the National Broadcasting Commission, which was established by NBC Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, to, amongst other responsibilities, license, monitor, regulate broadcasting in Nigeria and will not operate outside the precincts of this Act. The commission will continue to carry out its mandate without fear or favour,” he added.
According to the summary of the report, 17 stations received sanctions for broadcast of partisan content while a broadcast station was sanctioned for announcing results before authorised Returning Officers made them public, Ilelah stated.
“Three broadcast stations were sanctioned for inciting comments. Another four were sanctioned for divisive ethnic/religious content. 16 broadcast stations were given final warnings for various infringements,” he disclosed.
Ilelah warned that ahead of Saturday’s governorship and State Assembly polls, all broadcast stations must adhere to the provision of the law on broadcasting.