The Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) has kicked against the N5million fine, imposed by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on one of its members, Nigeria Info FM, for allegedly promoting hate speech.
IBAN in a statement issued yesterday after its emergency board meeting held on Monday, which was signed by its Chairman, Mr. Guy Murray-Bruce, described the commission’s fine as excessive.
It argued that the fine was a creation of the now disputed amendments to the 6th broadcasting code.
According to the statement, “While we concede the right to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria to the NBC, we wish to point out some cogent issues that must not be ignored in this instant case.
“The five million Naira (N5m) fine imposed is excessive, as it is a creation of the now disputed amendments to the 6th broadcasting code.
“We feel that in the absence of a universal buy into the amendments of the code, it is premature for the management of the commission to implement any aspect of the disputed amendments.”
IBAN stated that it also believed that the omnibus authority the NBC had arrogated to itself of being the accuser, judge and executioner in these matters fly in the face of the principle of fair hearing.
It added that the commission’s determination of what amounts to hate speech ought to be verified by an independent body before sanctions were imposed.
IBAN said: “As it stands now, the commission could on a whim label anything hate speech and then go ahead to impose a fine without the accused having the benefit of a fair hearing.
“Information available to us points to the existence of the Nigerian Press Council with the mandate to uphold ethical and professional standards in the media, investigate complaints against the press, monitor activities of the press, research on contemporary press development, investigate obstacles to the flow of information, protect the rights and privileges of journalists.
“In our view, the Nigerian Press Council which is made up of representatives from the following institutions, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, News Agency of Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Information, and the general public, is best suited to determine what might amount to a media infraction.”
However, IBAN recommended that the NBC should refer any alleged infraction of a broadcasting entity to the council for determination before sanctions are imposed.
It further called on the management of the commission to hold off on imposing any sanctions until the above-stated issues are addressed.
It also recommended that stakeholders and the management of NBC should enter into another round of consultations and discuss the amendments to the 6th Broadcasting Code as a way forward.