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Broadcasters suggest NBC sanctions on #EndSARS TV coverage did not follow due process

The regulator fined three TV stations N3 million each for their coverage of the upheaval. Activists say this is a threat to the freedom of the press.

• October 27, 2020

The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) has asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to withdraw its sanctions against three TV stations for their coverage of the #EndSARS crisis, suggesting the regulator took action without due process.

BON is the main association of public and private broadcasters in the country.

Its chairman Sa’a Ibrahim says in a statement published today that the organisation believes NBC must follow due process before taking action.

“BON wishes to call on the NBC to issue a formal query to each of the stations involved and give [them a] stipulated period to formally respond before taking the application of sanction laws,” the statement says.

“Therefore, we kindly request that the sanctions on AIT, Channels TV and Arise TV be withdrawn immediately pending formal responses by stations.”  

NBC fined AIT, Channels TV and Arise TV N3 million each yesterday.

The regulator said the TV stations contravened the Nigeria Broadcasting Code pertaining to ‘editorial responsibility’.

“Channels TV, Arise TV and AIT especially continued to transmit [footage] from unverified and unauthenticated social media sources,” said NBC.

The regulator said the footage shown by the three stations ‘stimulated anger’ and ‘heightened the violence’. But activists point to the freedom of the press and say the regulator’s descriptions threaten that freedom.

Activists at SERAP yesterday told NBC to cancel the sanctions or the nonprofit will challenge the sanctions in court.

Ariyo-Dare Atoye of the Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy also told Vanguard that the public “must see the latest action of the NBC, done at the command of the Minister for Information and the federal government, as a threat to free press, free speech and democratic governance.”

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