The board of the Independent Broadcasting Association Of Nigeria (IBAN) has asked the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to refer cases of alleged infractions to the Nigerian Press Council before imposing sanctions on broadcast stations.
Reacting to the N5 million fine imposed on Nigeria Info for allegedly promoting hate speech, the board said NBC should have consulted an independent body on what constitutes hate speech before imposing sanctions.
In a statement by Guy Murray-Bruce (pictured), its chairman, IBAN accused the NBC of taking on the position of the accuser, judge and executioner of matters “without fair hearing”.
IBAN said the press council has the mandate to uphold ethical and professional standards in the media, hence, it is best suited to determine what constitutes hate speech.
“While we concede the right to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria to NBC, we wish to point out some cogent issues that must not be ignored in this instant case,” the statement read.
“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.
“The commission’s determination of what amounts to hate speech ought to be verified by an independent body before sanctions are imposed. 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 Organization 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.
“We, therefore, recommend that the NBC refer any alleged infraction of a broadcasting entity to the council for determination before sanctions are imposed.
“We hereby respectfully call on the management of the NBC to hold off on imposing any sanctions until the above-stated issues are addressed.”