Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The National Broadcasting Commission ( NBC) has lifted the indefinite suspension on DAAR Communications, the operator of African Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power Radio.
The stations were shut down about three weeks ago, after NBC accused DAAR Communications. of violating the Broadcasting Code
Director General NBC, Is’haq Modibbo-Kawu, said yesterday at a press conference that DAAR Communications licence was restored following the conciliatory effort of the Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO) led by Nduka Obaigbena.
He lauded Obaigbena, who is also the Chairman of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria ( NPAN) of not joining the bandwagon of an almost Pavlovian reflexive condemnation of the NBC, but choosing instead, to find a way for the contending issues, between regulator and licensee, to be amicably resolved in the overall interest of the country.
He disclosed that NBC restored the licence after DAAR Communications withdrew the court case it instituted against the regulator.
He said by the terms of the agreement, DAAR Communications Plc shall furnish the NBC with a concrete and realistic proposal for the payment of its outstanding license renewal fee for the National Network Broadcast License ( Radio/TV).
The organisation shall also take the necessary internal steps to ensure balance in its news coverage, especially political commentary on the DAAR Communications Plc stations across the country.
In addition, DAAR Communications is also expected to take full editorial responsibility of the use of content sourced from Social Media and all/any other outlets.
Modibbo-Kawu also said that DAAR Communications would ensure that all programmes transmitted on its TV/Radio stations across the country comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap. NII, laws of the Federation, 2004 and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code as may be in force or/and as amended from time to time.
He, however, warned that in the event of further infractions, NBC would withdraw forthwith, the suspension of the National Network Broadcast License (Radio/TV) of DAAR Communications.
While reiterating full confidence in the Nigerian legal system, he urged DAAR Communications Plc, to take necessary the steps to abide by the terms of settlement entered as judgment of the court.
“A lot of individuals and bodies interpreted our actions from various subjective prisms and launched scurrilous attacks on the NBC.
An orchestrated media campaign was also launched with a desperate intention of de-legitimising the National Broadcasting Commission’s regulatory functions and powers. But we will continue to firmly operate at the most disciplined professional levels, and as the lawful regulatory body for broadcasting in Nigeria; just as we would not stop engaging with our licenses in the 726 Radio and television stations in our country. We do not relate with licensees on the basis of the political parties that they support, or any such subjective platforms. We hold our licensees to account only on the basis of their fidelity to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code,” Kawu said.
He condemned some operators for being in the habit to breach the terms of their licenses over the years and accumulating debts totaling over N4 billion payable to NBC, warning that no licence was too big to be regulated.
“We are not and will ever be a censorship institution. The NBC Act does not give us such power, and neither did the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. We remain a regulatory agency, that remains committed to ensuring that Nigerian Broadcasting, in the words of The Code “shall influence society positively, setting the agenda for the social, cultural, economic, political and technological development of (our) nation, for the public good”. In doing that we will firmly ensure, as The Code stated, that “no broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder, be repugnant to public feeling or …generally, be disrespectful to human dignity”.