By Nnamdi Ojiego
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has rejected the N5m fine imposed on Channels Television and Inspiration FM by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, for alleged infractions.
These fines, according to the Guild, are punitive, arbitrary and against press freedom. “The NBC is punishing Channels TV for interviewing the spokesman for 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”, it said in a statement. “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.
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“The National Broadcasting Code is clearly at variance with the tenets of democracy anchored on freedom of expression and a free press. “Every accused person or organisation deserves fair hearing before punishment is pronounced. Obtaining letters of apology from the affected stations under duress cannot justify the action of the NBC.
“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 was not paid within twenty four hours. “Neither the American authorities nor any other regulatory agency imposed sanctions on VOA for this interview. “The Nigerian Broadcasting Code should be reviewed without delay to reflect democratic principles.
Broadcasting stations in Nigeria should not be made to operate in an atmosphere of fear’’.
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