The Board of the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) has kicked against the N5 million fine slammed on Nigeria Info Radio Station by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).
The NBC had placed the N5 million fine on the radio station for an alleged promotion of hate speech through its platform.
Reacting in a statement, Guy Murray-Bruce, IBAN Chairman, said the fine was excessive and its implementation would be premature.
While accepting the right to regulate broadcasting in the country, Murray Bruce argued that NBC’s determination of what could be referred to as hate speech ought to be verified by an independent body – Nigerian Press Council (NPC) – before sanctions are imposed.
He said the Press Council, which is made up of representatives of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Federal Ministry of Information and the general public, “is best suited to determine what might amount to a media infraction”.
“While we concede the right to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria to NBC, we wish to point out some cogent issues that must not be ignored in this instant case,” said the IBAN Chairman.
“The Five Million Naira (N5m) fine imposed is excessive, as it is a creation of the now disputed amendments to the 6th broadcasting code. We feel that in the absence of a universal buy into the amendments of the code, it is premature for the management of the commission to implement any aspect of the disputed amendments.
“The commission’s determination of what amounts to hate speech ought to be verified by an independent body before sanctions are imposed. As it stands now, the commission could on a whim label anything hate speech and then go ahead to impose a fine without the accused having the benefit of a fair hearing.
“Information available to us points to the existence of the Nigerian Press Council with the mandate to uphold ethical and professional standards in the media, investigate complaints against the Press, monitor activities of the press, research on contemporary press development, investigate obstacles to the flow of information, protect the rights and privileges of journalists.
“In our view, the Nigerian Press Council which is made up of representatives from the following institutions, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Federal Ministry of Information and the general public, is best suited to determine what might amount to a media infraction.
“We, therefore, recommend that the NBC refer any alleged infraction of a broadcasting entity to the council for determination before sanctions are imposed.
“We hereby respectfully call on the management of the NBC to hold off on imposing any sanctions until the above-stated issues are addressed.”