The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has issued final warnings to 16 broadcast stations and has sanctioned 25 others for their alleged failure to adhere to extant broadcast law on coverage of the 2023 general elections.
It was gathered that the commission’s Director-General, Balarabe Ilelah made the revelation at a press briefing in Abuja.
The NBC boss submitted that while 25 stations were sanctioned by the commission in the course of monitoring the 2023 presidential election, 16 other stations were given final warnings for various offences.
Ilelah, in his break down of the stations and some offences committed, explained that one station was sanctioned for broadcasting the results of the election before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the results which contravene Section 5.33 of the NBC code, while 17 others were sanctioned for broadcasting partisan party content after the prescribed 24-hour deadline time by NBC and four stations have been sanctioned for divisive comments.
He maintained 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.
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.
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“When those who should dish out information become biassed and pitch camp with different groups, division is heightened.
“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.
“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.”
The NBC boss however warned all broadcast stations to adhere to the provision of the law on broadcasting ahead of the Saturday’s polls.