The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has imposed fines on Trust Television, MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, TelCom Satellite Limited, and StarTimes Limited for airing a documentary on banditry.
Balarabe Ilelah, director-general of the NBC, announced the development in in a statement on Wednesday.
Trust TV, an organisation affiliated to Daily Trust newspaper, had aired a documentary entitled ‘Nigeria’s Banditry: The Inside Story’, in March, while the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Africa Eye released its documentary — ‘The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara’ — recently.
Consequently, the federal government said both media outlets would be penalised for “glorifying terrorism”.
Ilelah said the fines for DSTV, StarTimes and TSTV was because the platforms aired the BBC documentary on banditry.
“The National Broadcasting Commission, today, August 3, 2022, imposed a Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) sanction, each, on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV; TelCom Satellite Limited (TSTV); NTA Startimes Limited; for the carriage of the documentary by the BBC Africa Eye titled, ‘Bandit Warlords of Zamfara’ which glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security in Nigeria,” the statement reads.
“Trust TV Network Limited was also fined Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) for its documentary titled: ‘Nigeria’s Banditry-The Inside Story’.
“While appreciating the need of educating, informing, and enlightening the public on issues bordering on developments and happenings within and outside the country, the Commission wishes to seize this opportunity to advise broadcasters to be circumspect and deliberate in the choice and carriage of contents deleterious to Nigeria’s National security.
“Consequently, the airing and carriage of these documentaries contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, sixth edition.”
According to Ilelah, the airing of the documentaries contravened section 3(1)(1) of the broadcast code which reads: “No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime. lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organisation, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity”.
NBC also said the platforms violated section 3(12)(2), which bars a broadcaster from transmitting a programme “that incites or likely to incite to violence among the populace, causing mass panic, political and social upheaval, security breach and general social disorder”, as well as section 3(11)(2), which reads: “the Broadcaster shall ensure that law enforcement is upheld at all times in a manner depicting that law and order are socially superior to, or more desirable than crime or anarchy”.
“The imposed penalties on these broadcast media platforms and station is to be remitted not later than August 30, 2022. Failure to comply with this will lead to the imposition of a higher sanction as provided in the Code,” Ilelah added.
“Broadcasters are enjoined to be instruments of national unity and desist from falling into antics of using their platforms to promote and glamorise subversive elements and their activities.
“Please note that every broadcast station or platform is responsible for the content it transmits or transmitted on its platform, and shall be held liable for any content in violation of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”
Meanwhile, in a statement on Wednesday, Trust TV said it is studying the NBC’s decision and considering its options on the matter.
“While we are currently studying the Commission’s action and weighing our options, we wish to state unequivocally that as a television station, we believe we were acting in the public interest by shedding light on the thorny issue of banditry and how it is affecting millions of citizens of our country,” the statement reads.
“The documentary traces the root of the communal tensions and systemic inadequacies which led to the armed conflict that is setting the stage for another grand humanitarian crisis in Nigeria.
“It presents insights into the intersection of injustice, ethnicity and bad governance as drivers of the conflict.
“It also aggregates voices of experts and key actors towards finding solutions, including those of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Senator Saidu Mohammed Dansadau, who hails from one the worst hit communities in Zamfara state.”