The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has fined three broadcast stations – Channels Television, Arise Television and Africa Independent Television – N3 million each for their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.
NBC Director-General Prof. Armstrong Idachaba in a press conference in Abuja on Monday described their coverage as “unprofessional”.
“Channels Television, Arise TV and AIT especially continued to transmit footages obtained from unverified and unauthenticated social media sources. No doubt these pictures stimulated anger and heightened the violence that was witnessed during the crisis,” Idachaba said.
In addition to the fine on AIT, the broadcast industry regulator said it is considering seizing the station’s licence over a false report that the National Ecumenical Centre was set ablaze.
Last week, the NBC warned all broadcast stations against reporting the #EndSARS protests in a manner that could embarrass the government or private individuals or cause disaffection, incite panic or rift in the society.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned NBC’s action.
“This action by NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. NBC should drop the fines and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom. We will sue NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours,” a statement by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare read.
“This is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression, and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information, and the NBC must immediately withdraw the decision.”
SERAP further said: “President Muhammadu Buhari should caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses and to respect the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”