Editors reject over $13,000 fine imposed on 2 private broadcast stations

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has decried the N5 million (about $13,157) fine imposed on two private Nigerian broadcast…

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has decried the N5 million (about $13,157) fine imposed on two private Nigerian broadcast stations, Channels Television and Inspiration FM by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for alleged infractions.“These fines are punitive, arbitrary and against press freedom,” the NGE said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

The NGE explained that the NBC is punishing Channels TV for interviewing the spokesman of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) while Inspiration FM is facing the hammer of NBC for broadcasting a statement by IPOB, declaring a sit – at – home order.

“Once again, the NBC has played the role of an accuser, the prosecutor and the judge.

“In a democratic country like ours, a panel should have been set up to investigate the alleged infractions, with both stations given the opportunity for defence.

“The National Broadcasting Code is clearly at variance with the tenets of democracy anchored on freedom of expression and a free press,” the statement said.

According to the NGE, every accused person or organisation deserves fair hearing before punishment is pronounced and that obtaining letters of apology from the affected stations under duress cannot justify the action of the NBC.

The NGE recalled that the Voice of America (VOA), Hausa Service, recently interviewed the leader of a terrorist group behind the abduction of 22 students of Greenfield University, Kaduna State. In that interview, the terrorists threatened to kill the remaining students in their custody if N100 million (about $263,157) was not paid within 24 four hours.

It noted that neither the American authorities nor any other regulatory agency imposed sanctions on VOA for this interview.

The NGE therefore said that the Nigerian Broadcasting Code should be reviewed without delay to reflect democratic principles and that broadcasting stations in Nigeria should not be made to operate in an atmosphere of fear.

“A free press is needed to nurture and sustain democracy in Nigeria,” it said.

The NGE has therefore called on the NBC to withdraw these obnoxious fines and stop the harassment of broadcasting stations over matters that could easily be resolved through dialogue.


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