NBC fines DSTV, NTA-Startimes, others N5m each over terrorism documentary

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Barely 24 hours after it slapped a N5 million fine on the Trust TV for airing a documentary it alleged was promoting terrorism, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Thursday, imposed a fine another N5 million each on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV, TelCom Satellite Limited (TSTV), and NTA-Startimes Limited for broadcasting a documentary by the BBC Africa Eye titled; ‘Bandits Warlords of Zamfara.’

It would be recalled that Trust Television Network (Trust TV) owned by Media Trust Limited was Wednesday, fined N5 million for the broadcast of another documentary titled, “Nigeria’s Banditry: The Inside Story”, which was aired by the station on March 5, 2022.

In a statement titled, ‘NBC Sanction PayTV Platforms’ issued on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, and signed by its Director-General, Balarabe Shehu Illela, the regulatory authority declared that the airing and carriage of these documentaries, contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Sixth edition.

The NBC believes its action was in national interest and in compliance with the broadcast code. The body then enjoined broadcasters to be instruments of national unity and desist from falling into antics of using their platforms to promote and glamorize subversive elements and their activities.

The Commission further advised broadcasters to be circumspect and deliberate in the choice and carriage of contents deleterious to Nigeria’s national security.

The relevant sections cited by the NBC include “3.1.1: No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime. lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity

3.12.2: The broadcaster shall not transmit a programme that incites or likely to incite to violence among the populace, causing mass panic, political and social upheaval, security breach and general social disorder; and

“3.11.2: The Broadcaster shall ensure that law enforcement is upheld at all times in a manner depicting that law and order are socially superior to, or more desirable than crime or anarchy.”

NBC said the imposed penalties on the broadcast media platforms and station was to be remitted not later than August 30, 2022.

It added that failure to comply will lead to the imposition of a higher sanction as provided in the Code.

 “Please note that every broadcast station or platform is responsible for the content it transmits or transmitted on its platform, and shall be held liable for any content in violation of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code,” the Commission added.

Only last Thursday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Thursday, said the Federal Government will sanction the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Trust TV ‘for airing respective documentaries glorifying and fueling terrorism, banditry in Nigeria.’

Mohammed, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen, in Abuja, said the Federal Government is aware of the ‘unprofessional documentary’ by the BBC, Africa Eye, where interviews were granted to bandit warlords and terror gangs, thereby promoting terror in the country.

While, condemning the BBC for ‘not upholding the same standards and tenets as they would have done in the United Kingdom,’ the minister also condemned Trust Tv, owned by Media Trust Ltd. for using its platform to grant interview to a bandit kingpin, Shehu Rekeb, thereby promoting activities of terrorists.

According to him, both platforms by their actions ‘have become accomplices to terrorists and bandits in the name of reporting.’

The minister said the appropriate regulatory body was already looking at the infractions and appropriate sanctions would be meted to both platforms.

“There is a regulatory body regulating broadcasting which is the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and they are also aware of these two incidents.

“They are looking at which part of the Broadcasting Code that has been violated by the BBC and Trust TV.

“Media is the oxygen that terrorists and bandits use to breathe.

“When otherwise reputable platforms like BBC can give their platform to terrorists showing their faces as if they are Nollywood stars, it is unfortunate.

“I want to assure them that they will not get away with it, appropriate sanctions will be meted to both the BBC and the Trust Tv,’’ he said.

The minister said that the fact that the BBC is a foreign medium and not under NBC regulations, notwithstanding, sanctions will be meted to the medium.

“Let me assure you that they will not get away with the naked glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.

“If they are not registered in Nigeria and they are only sending their signals to Nigeria, we will ask them to stop sending the signals.

“I know that during the IRA days, the BBC will not dare do what they are doing now in Nigeria.

“It is because there is a country called Nigeria that they are operating here,” he said.

According to Mohammed, ‘the government would not tolerate any attempt by any media organisation to use its platform to set the country on fire.’

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