BON, NBC Fault ‘Illegal’ Closure Of Broadcast Stations In Zamfara

A photo showing the map of Zamfara, a state in north-west Nigeria.

 

The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) have faulted the Zamfara State government’s shutting down of broadcast houses.

The Zamfara government had on Saturday shut down the stations for covering the political event of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP governorship candidate Dauda Lawal.

But in separate reactions, the bodies said the move is uncalled for.

“The National Broadcasting Commission has noted with serious concern the illegal action of Zamfara State Government by directing the shutdown of operations of licensees of the Commission in the State, on Saturday, October 15, 2022,” the Director-General of the NBC, Balarabe Illela, said.

“The NBC has clearly notified the State Government of the gravity of the illegality and requested it to expeditiously reverse the directive and apologize to the people of the State.

“We also urge the Security Agencies to ignore the call to restrict Staff of the affected Stations from conducting their legitimate duties.

“The Commission wishes to further emphasize that it will resist ANY attempt to cause a breach of law and order ANYWHERE through the misuse of the broadcast media in Nigeria, before, during, and after the 2023 national elections.

“We call on ALL industry stakeholders to resist ANY attempt to truncate the hard-earned democratic gains in Nigeria

“ANY aggrieved Person or Institution with genuine complaints) arising from unprofessional conduct or action by ANY licensed broadcaster in Nigeria is hereby requested to follow the laid down processes enshrined in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

“The Commission will not relent to discharge its mandate according to the NBC Act, CAP. NII, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. All broadcast license holders are urged to ensure strict compliance and avoid ANY action inimical to democratic governance and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria.

“Kindly extend the warmest high regards and assurances of the Director-General and the Board of management of the NBC, to ALL Nigerians.”

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On its part, BON said it received the development with disbelief.

“The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria(BON) has received with TOTAL shock and disbelief the order made by the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle to shutdown Federal and private broadcast media houses in Zamfara State,” BON said in a statement by its Executive Secretary Yemisi Bamgbose.

“We hasten to state that the Governor not only lacks the constitutional power to issue such an order, the order is also an arbitrary and a naked abuse and misuse of executive power.

“The power to licence or withdraw the licence of a broadcast media is vested in the National Broadcasting Commission established by an Act of Parliament. Even at that, the Constitution and the Act did not give any room for arbitrariness in the exercise of the power to impose sanctions talk less of closure of broadcast media on any agency or any level of government including the Federal Government, without following the laid down procedure and seeking an order from a court of competent jurisdiction. This position of the law has been upheld by the law courts at various times.

“The closure of the Federal and private broadcast media by the Governor is equally an affront against the Electoral Act 2022 which should be curbed immediately before it destroys our nascent democracy. “

2023 Elections: NBC Reads Riot Act, Warns Against Hate Speech

 

 

The Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has read the riot act to operators in Nigeria’s broadcast industry, ahead of the kick-off of political campaigns for the 2023 general elections.

Speaking at a sensitisation forum on political broadcasting in Abuja, the Director-General of the NBC, Mr Balarabe Ilelah, advised against the use of hate speech during the campaign.

He warned that the Commission would not hesitate to sanction any individual and organisation that breaches the broadcasting codes.

The Commission threatened to shut down broadcast stations that run fowl to the NBC broadcast code.

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The ongoing forum on political broadcasting in Abuja is a grand finale of a sensitisation exercise embarked on by the NBC, ahead of the campaigns for the 2023 general elections.

The meeting in Abuja is attended by heads of broadcast media organisations, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the Nigeria Police Force.

Court Extends Order Stopping Buhari, NBC From Shutting Down 53 Broadcast Stations

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has extended the order stopping President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations in the country, and shutting down the stations for allegedly failing to renew their licenses.

Honourable Justice Akintayo Aluko (Court 8) had on 29 August 2022 granted an order of interim injunction following the hearing of an argument on motion exparte by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).

The order was granted pending the hearing of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.

When the case came up before the Court for hearing today, Honourable Justice Daniel Emeka Osiagor extended the order of interim injunction pending the hearing of the Motion on Notice, and adjourned the case to 26th October 2022 for the hearing of the originating summons.


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The Court extended the order of interim injunction following the hearing of an argument by SERAP and NGE counsel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN.

SERAP and NGE had in August filed a lawsuit against Buhari and NBC, asking the court for “a declaration that section 10(a) of the Third Schedule to the NBC Act used by NBC to threaten to revoke the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and to shut down the stations is unconstitutional and unlawful, as it violates freedom of expression.”

In the suit, SERAP and NGE had asked the court for “an order of interim injunction restraining Buhari and NBC, their agents from revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations in the country and shutting their down operations, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously in this suit.”

The suit followed the decision by the NBC to revoke the licenses of the 53 broadcast stations and shut down their operations within 24 hours over alleged N2.6 billion debt.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1582/2022, SERAP and NGE are asking the court to determine “whether section 10(a) of the Third Schedule to the NBC Act used by NBC to threaten revoke the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shut them down is not in inconsistent with freedom of expression and access to information.”

SERAP and NGE are also seeking “a declaration that section 10(a) of the National Broadcasting Act used by NBC to unilaterally revoke the licenses of the broadcast stations and shutdown the stations is a violation of the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to fair hearing.”

The suit, read in part: “The provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties on freedom of expression indicate that this right can be exercised through any medium.”

“Effectively, these provisions recognize that every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to receive, seek and impart information through any communication medium without discrimination.”

“The use of NBC Act and Code in this case would inadmissibly open the door to arbitrariness and would fundamentally restrict the freedom of expression that is an integral part of the public order protected the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and information – in its individual and collective aspects – in a democratic society.”

“Indeed, the media has the task of distributing all varieties of information and opinion on matters of general interest.”

“The public has a right to receive and assess this information and opinion independently. Therefore, the existence of a free, independent, vigorous, pluralistic, and diverse media is essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society.”

“According to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ‘licensing processes shall seek to promote diversity in broadcasting. Any registration system for the media shall not impose substantive restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.’”

“Revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shutting down their operations because they have not renewed their licenses would both seriously undermine the rights of millions of Nigerians to express their thoughts, and their right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in any medium they choose.”

“Freedom of expression includes the public’s right to receive, and the right of those who express themselves through a medium of communication, to impart the greatest possible diversity of information and ideas.”

“The media including the affected 53 broadcast stations play an essential role, as they allow millions of Nigerians to access both the relevant information and a variety of perspectives that are necessary for reaching reasonable and informed conclusions on matters of public interest.”

“The Plaintiffs recognize the mandates of NBC to regulate broadcasting. However, the exercise of such mandates including renewals or revocation of licenses must follow the thresholds and guidelines set by the right to freedom of expression.”

“The free circulation of ideas and news is not possible except in the context of a plurality of sources of information and media outlets. The lack of plurality in sources of information is a serious obstacle for the functioning of democracy.”

“The NBC Act and Broadcasting Code cannot and should not be used in a manner that is inconsistent and incompatible with plurality of voices, diversity of voices, non-discrimination, and just demands of a democratic society, as well as the public interest.”

“Broadcasting is a means of exercising freedom of expression. Any restrictions on freedom of expression must meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

“The regulation of broadcasting must aspire to promote and expand the scope of the right to freedom of expression, not restrict it.”

Court Stops Buhari, NBC From Shutting Down 53 Broadcast Stations

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has stopped President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations in the country, and shutting down the stations for allegedly failing to renew their licenses.

Honourable Justice Akintayo Aluko (Court 8) today granted an order of interim injunction following the hearing of an argument on motion exparte by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).

SERAP and NGE had last week filed a lawsuit against Buhari and NBC, asking the court for “a declaration that section 10(a) of the Third Schedule to the NBC Act used by NBC to threaten to revoke the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and to shut down the stations is unconstitutional and unlawful, as it violates freedom of expression.”

In the suit, SERAP and NGE had asked the court for “an order of interim injunction restraining Buhari and NBC, their agents from revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations in the country and shutting their down operations, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously in this suit.”


NBC Fines DSTV, Trust TV, Startimes, Others Over Documentary On Bandits

NBC Revokes Licences Of Silverbird, AIT, Raypower, Rhythm FM, Others

License Fees: NBC Delays Shutdown Of Broadcast Stations

NBC Temporarily Suspends Shutdown Of Indebted Broadcast Stations


The suit is adjourned to 8th September, 2022 for the hearing of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.

The suit followed the decision by the NBC to revoke the licenses of the 53 broadcast stations and shut down their operations within 24 hours over alleged N2.6 billion debt.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1582/2022, SERAP and NGE are asking the court to determine “whether section 10(a) of the Third Schedule to the NBC Act used by NBC to threaten revoke the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shut them down is not in inconsistent with freedom of expression and access to information.”

SERAP and NGE are also seeking “a declaration that section 10(a) of the National Broadcasting Act used by NBC to unilaterally revoke the licenses of the broadcast stations and shutdown the stations is a violation of the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to fair hearing.”

The suit, read in part: “The provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties on freedom of expression indicate that this right can be exercised through any medium.”

“Effectively, these provisions recognize that every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to receive, seek and impart information through any communication medium without discrimination.”

“The use of NBC Act and Code in this case would inadmissibly open the door to arbitrariness and would fundamentally restrict the freedom of expression that is an integral part of the public order protected the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and information – in its individual and collective aspects – in a democratic society.”

“Indeed, the media has the task of distributing all varieties of information and opinion on matters of general interest.”

“The public has a right to receive and assess this information and opinion independently. Therefore, the existence of a free, independent, vigorous, pluralistic, and diverse media is essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society.”

“According to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ‘licensing processes shall seek to promote diversity in broadcasting. Any registration system for the media shall not impose substantive restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.’”

“Revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shutting down their operations because they have not renewed their licenses would both seriously undermine the rights of millions of Nigerians to express their thoughts, and their right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in any medium they choose.”

“Freedom of expression includes the public’s right to receive, and the right of those who express themselves through a medium of communication, to impart the greatest possible diversity of information and ideas.”

“The right to freedom of expression is based on the right to establish or use a media outlet to exercise freedom of expression and on society’s right to have access to a free, independent, and pluralistic media that allows for the most and most diverse information.”

“The media, including the affected 53 broadcast stations, serve to distribute Nigerians’ thoughts and information while at the same time allowing them access to the ideas, information, opinions, and cultural expressions of other individuals.”

“The exercise of the right to freedom of expression through the media is a guarantee that is fundamental for advancing the collective deliberative process on public and democratic issues.”

“Therefore, the strengthening of the guarantee of freedom of expression is a precondition for the exercise of other human rights, as well as a precondition to the right to participation to be informed and reasoned.”

“The media including the affected 53 broadcast stations play an essential role, as they allow millions of Nigerians to access both the relevant information and a variety of perspectives that are necessary for reaching reasonable and informed conclusions on matters of public interest.”

“The Plaintiffs recognize the mandates of NBC to regulate broadcasting. However, the exercise of such mandates including renewals or revocation of licenses must follow the thresholds and guidelines set by the right to freedom of expression.”

“The free circulation of ideas and news is not possible except in the context of a plurality of sources of information and media outlets. The lack of plurality in sources of information is a serious obstacle for the functioning of democracy.”

“The NBC Act and Broadcasting Code cannot and should not be used in a manner that is inconsistent and incompatible with plurality of voices, diversity of voices, non-discrimination, and just demands of a democratic society, as well as the public interest.”

“Broadcasting is a means of exercising freedom of expression. Any restrictions on freedom of expression must meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

“The regulation of broadcasting must aspire to promote and expand the scope of the right to freedom of expression, not restrict it.”

NBC Temporarily Suspends Shutdown Of Indebted Broadcast Stations

 

 

The National Broadcasting Commission on Friday temporarily rescinded its decision to shutdown certain broadcast stations over failure to renew their licences. 

A week ago, the Commission issued a shutdown notice to the licenses of Silverbird TV, AIT, Raypower FM, and Rhythm FM amongst others over a debt of N2.66 billion.

Following the ultimatum, the broadcast body received positive responses from the debtor Licensees, including big players in the broadcast industry.

This was made known in a communique signed by the Director General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, where he confirmed the decision to put a halt to revoking the licenses of the defaulting media organisations.

“Sequel to a follow-up meeting held with Executives of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), and other critical Stakeholders in the industry, the Commission has decided to temporarily suspend the shutdown of the indebted Broadcast stations all over the Country,” Ilelah said.

“We express our profound appreciation to the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, the affected licensees and Broadcast Stakeholders for their responses and interventions. We, specifically, thank DAAR Communications Ltd and Silverbird TV/Rhythm FM for their responses.”

The communique also revealed that NBC was aware of the inconveniences the shutdown must have caused the operators and other stakeholders, but it insisted that it “will always operate within the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap. N11, Laws of the Federation, 2004.”

SERAP Issues 24-Hour Ultimatum To Buhari Over Suspension Of Radio, TV Stations

A photo combination of SERAP’s logo and President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has issued a 24-hour ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari over the suspension of radio and television stations.

On Friday, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) revoked the licences of 52 broadcast stations in the country, including AIT/Ray Power FM, and Silverbird TV. The commission had ordered the stations off air beginning from Saturday, citing Section 10(a) of the 3rd Schedule of the National Broadcasting Commission Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

However, the agency suspended the revocation of the operating licenses of 52 broadcast stations owing various sums in licensing fees.

READ ALSO: NBC Fines DSTV, Trust TV, Startimes, Others Over Documentary On Bandits

Despite suspending the action, SERAP asked the Commission to withdraw the revocation order on debtor stations.

In a letter dated August 20 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the rights group called for the withdrawal of the revocation order.

“Revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shutting down their operations because they have not renewed their licenses would undermine the rights of millions of Nigerians to express their thoughts,” the group said.

“It would also violate Nigerians’ right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in any medium they choose.”

“We would be grateful if the requested action is taken within 24 hours of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

See the full statement below:

SERAP gives Buhari govt 24 hours to withdraw its threat to shut down 53 TV, and radio stations

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently instruct Mr Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to urgently withdraw the threat to revoke the licenses and shut down the operations of 53 broadcast stations in the country over alleged failure to renew their licenses.”

NBC had last week revoked the licenses of the 53 broadcast stations and threatened to shut down their operations within 24 hours over alleged N2.6 billion debt. The NBC has now asked the stations “to pay all outstanding license fees on or before August 23, 2022, or shut down by 12 am on August 24.”

But in a letter dated 20 August 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said, “The threat to shut down 53 broadcast stations is neither necessary nor proportionate. If carried out, it would offend the legal principles of equity and equality of access to mass communication.”

SERAP said, “Under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international human rights law, freedom and diversity must be guiding principles in the regulation and licensing of broadcasting. The threat to shut down 53 broadcast stations is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with these principles.”

According to SERAP, “Revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shutting down their operations because they have not renewed their licenses would undermine the rights of millions of Nigerians to express their thoughts.”

The letter, read in part: “It would also violate Nigerians’ right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in any medium they choose.”

“We would be grateful if the requested action is taken within 24 hours of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“The NBC Act and Broadcasting Code cannot and should not be used in a manner that is inconsistent and incompatible with the plurality of voices, diversity of voices, non-discrimination, and just demands of a democratic society, as well as the public interest.”

“When money or economic considerations are the major criteria for renewing licenses for broadcast stations, the fundamental principles of equal access to the media, pluralism and diversity are compromised.”

“Broadcasting is a means of exercising freedom of expression. Any restrictions on freedom of expression must meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality. Any regulation of broadcasting must respect these three requirements.”

“With just months to go before the general elections, scheduled for February 2023, your government ought to do more to create conditions for a free and fair vote. This includes demonstrated commitment to freedom of expression.”

“Shutting down 53 broadcast stations on the pretext of non-renewal of their licenses is neither necessary in a democratic society nor proportionate to meet the constitutional and international guarantees of freedom of expression.”

“The right to freedom of expression is based on the right to establish or use a media outlet to exercise freedom of expression and on society’s right to have access to a free, independent, and pluralistic media that allows for the most and most diverse information.”

“Rather than using the NBC Act and Broadcasting Code to shut down 53 broadcast stations, your government ought to use these frameworks to promote the broadest, freest, and most independent exercise of freedom of expression for the widest variety of groups and individuals possible.”

“The media, including the affected 53 broadcast stations, serve to distribute Nigerians’ thoughts and information while at the same time allowing them access to the ideas, information, opinions, and cultural expressions of other individuals.”

“SERAP believes that the media including the affected 53 broadcast stations play an essential role, as they allow millions of Nigerians to access both the relevant information and a variety of perspectives that are necessary for reaching reasonable and informed conclusions on matters of public interest.”

“The media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and information – in its individual and collective aspects – in a democratic society.”

“Indeed, the media has the task of distributing all varieties of information and opinion on matters of general interest.”

“The public has a right to receive and assess this information and opinion independently. Therefore, the existence of a free, independent, vigorous, pluralistic, and diverse media is essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society.”

“Freedom of expression includes the public’s right to receive, and the right of those who express themselves through a medium of communication, to impart the greatest possible diversity of information and ideas.”

“According to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ‘licensing processes shall seek to promote diversity in broadcasting. Any registration system for the media shall not impose substantive restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.’”

“The revocation of a license must be necessary in a democratic society in order to achieve the compelling aims pursued, strictly proportionate to the aim pursued, and suitable for accomplishing that aim.”

“It is essential to remove any risks of arbitrary or disproportionate use of NBC legal frameworks.”

“The strengthening of the guarantee of freedom of expression is a precondition for the exercise of other human rights, as well as a precondition to the right to participation to be informed and reasoned.”

“It is the mass media such as the 53 broadcast stations that make the exercise of freedom of expression a reality. This means that the conditions of its use must conform to the requirements of this freedom.”

“Therefore, any regulation of the media, including licensing, must be evaluated according to the guidelines and directives imposed by the right to freedom of expression.”

“SERAP recognizes the mandates of the NBC to regulate broadcasting. However, the exercise of such mandates including renewals or revocation of licenses must follow the thresholds and guidelines set by the right to freedom of expression.”

“The free circulation of ideas and news is not possible except in the context of a plurality of sources of information and media outlets. The lack of plurality in sources of information is a serious obstacle for the functioning of democracy.”

“If carried out, the threat by NBC would impermissibly restrict the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas to a greater extent and would therefore violate freedom of expression.”

“The regulation of broadcasting must aspire to promote and expand the scope of the right to freedom of expression, not restrict it.”

“Revocation of licenses of broadcast stations can seriously jeopardize fundamental rights of the individuals involved and create a silencing or “chilling” effect on democratic speech.”

“The revocation of the licenses of the affected 53 broadcast stations is neither necessary nor proportionate, as the issue of licence fees can be reasonably achieved through other measure(s) that is less restrictive of freedom of expression.”

“The right to freedom of expression is a central pillar of a democratic society and a guarantor of free and fair electoral processes, and meaningful and representative public and political discourse.”

“It is during times of political change that the right to freedom of expression is most essential, ensuring that a well-informed and empowered public is free to exercise its civil and political rights.”

“Section 39(1) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that, enshrines the right to freedom of expression and indicates that this right can be exercised through any medium.”

“Effectively, Section 39 of the Constitution establishes that the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds can be exercised orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one’s choice.”

“Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights contain similar provisions.”

“The Nigerian Constitution and these legally binding human rights treaties, recognize that every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to receive, seek and impart information through any communication medium without discrimination.”

“Freedom of expression goes further than the theoretical recognition of the right to speak or to write. It also includes and cannot be separated from the right to use whatever medium is deemed appropriate to impart ideas and to have them reach as wide an audience as possible.”

“The 53 affected broadcast stations include Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Abuja; Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Lagos; Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Yenagoa; Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Port Harcourt; and Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Jos.”

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

21/8/2022

Lagos, Nigeria

 

 

License Fees: NBC Delays Shutdown Of Broadcast Stations

 

The National Broadcasting Commission has delayed the shutdown of broadcast stations it said have not renewed their licenses.

On Friday the Commission had threatened to revoke the broadcast licenses of Silverbird TV, AIT, Raypower FM, Rhythm FM and other stations over failure to renew their licences.

The debt owed by the stations, the NBC said, amounted to N2.66 billion.

READ ALSO: NBC’s Revocation Of Broadcast Stations Licences Is Hasty- NUJ

It had also advised the stations to shut down operations within 24 hours.

However, in a statement on Saturday, the NBC said it had extended the deadline for a shutdown till Wednesday,

“This is to inform all the affected broadcast stations whose licenses were revoked and given 24 hours to pay all outstanding license fees that the National Broadcasting Commission has extended the period which all outstanding debts are to be paid from 24 hours to Wednesday August 23, 2022,” a statement signed by NBC Director-General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, said.

“All affected broadcast stations who fail to defray their debts on or before August 23, 2022 are directed to shut down by 12am on August 24, 2022.

“This extension is due to the appeal by the affected Broadcast Stations, relevant stakeholders, public spirited individuals and organisations.”

NBC’s Revocation Of Broadcast Stations Licences Is Hasty- NUJ

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described the National Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC) revocation of 52 broadcast station licences as hasty.

A statement by the NUJ on Friday faulted the move, saying it is ill-timed.

“The decision today by the industry regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission – NBC, to revoke the licenses of 52 broadcast stations nationwide over indebtedness to the Commission was ill-advised,” NUJ chief, National President, Chris Isiguzo, said in a statement.

“The affected stations, according to NBC are said to owe arrears of licence fees amounting to N2.6 billion since 2015.

“Although the Director General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah claimed that this development had no political motives, we insist that the action was ill-timed and reckless.

“It should be noted that this wholesale revocation of licences at this critical time of insecurity in the Country appears to be a decision taken without careful prior deliberation, consultation, or counsel.”

READ ALSO: NBC Revokes Licences Of Silverbird, AIT, Raypower, Rhythm FM, Others

The NUJ believes in the face of economic hardship, the”large scale clampdown of broadcast stations in disregard to security issues and the attendant consequence. We cannot afford the unpleasant outcome of such a media blackout at this time.”

“We call on NBC to exercise more restraint on this issue in consideration of national security and allow for more dialogue and consultation to find a better way of dealing with the situation,” the union added.

Earlier in the day, NBC sanctioned the stations, citing their inability to renew their licences.

The broadcast regulator gave the affected media outlets “24 hours to shut down their operations” and also directed its offices across the country to “collaborate with security agencies to ensure immediate compliance”.

“In view of this development, the continued operation of the debtor stations is illegal and constitutes a threat to national security,” NBC added, noting that the second tranche of defaulters will soon be released.

NBC Revokes Licences Of Silverbird, AIT, Raypower, Rhythm FM, Others

 

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has revoked the broadcast licences of Silverbird TV, AIT, Raypower FM, and Rhythm FM amongst others over failure to renew their licences amounting to N2.66 billion.

A statement by NBC on Friday noted that the move followed the publication of a list of stations yet to renew their licences. It said a two-week waiver was given to them in May to do so after which they risked the revocation of their broadcast licences.

But three months after the publication, the Commission explained that “some licensees are yet to pay their outstanding debts, in contravention of the National Broadcasting Commission Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, particularly section 10(a) of the third schedule of the Act.

“Therefore, after due consideration, NBC hereby announces the revocation of the licenses of the…stations and gives them 24 hours to shut down their operations. Our offices nationwide are hereby directed to collaborate with security agencies to ensure immediate compliance.”

READ ALSO: NBC’s Revocation Of Broadcast Stations Licences Is Hasty- NUJ

The broadcast regulator said the continued operation of the “debtor stations is illegal and constitutes a threat to national security”.

It called on other broadcast stations yet to renew their licences for the present duration to do so within the next 30 days or risk punishment. According to NBC, Friday’s list is the first batch of offenders. A second tranche will soon be released, the regulator said.

“The Commission also calls on all IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and all other broadcast stations that are streaming online to register with the Commission to avoid disconnection,” it added.

“Broadcasters should note that having a DTT or FM license does not warrant a broadcaster to stream online; they are two different licences.”

The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) says it will work with stakeholders to resolve the matter.

Below is the list of affected stations: 

1. Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Abuja
2. Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Lagos
3. Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Yenagoa
4. Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Port Harcourt
5. Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communications Ltd) FM Jos
6. Rhythm FM (Silverbird Communication Ltd) Benin
7. AIT/Ray Power FM (DAAR Communication ltd) Network
8. Greetings FM (Greetings Media Ltd)
9. FM Network Tao FM (Ovidi Communications Ltd)
10. FM Okene, Zuma FM (Zuma FM Ltd)
11. FM Suleja Crowther FM (Crowther Communications Ltd) FM Abuja
12. We FM (Kings Broadcasting Ltd)
13. FM Benin Linksman International Ltd

14. Keffi Bomay Broadcasting Services Ltd Abuja
15. MITV (Murhi International Group Ltd) Ibadan
16. Classic FM (Pinkt Nigeria Ltd) Port-Harcourt
17. Classic FM (Pinkt Nigeria Ltd) Lagos
18. Classic TV (Pinkt Nigeria Ltd) Lagos
19. Beat FM (Megalectrics Ltd) Lagos
20. Cooper Communications Ltd Lagos
21. Splash FM (West Midlands Ltd) Ibadan

22. Osun State Broadcasting Corporation
23. Rock City FM (Boot Communications Ltd) Abeokuta
24. Family FM (Kalaks Investments Nig. Ltd) Ilugun
25. Space FM (Creazioni Nig. Ltd) Ibadan
26. Radio Jeremi (Radio Jeremi Ltd) Effurun
27. Breeze FM (Bays Water Ltd) Akure
28. Vibes FM (Vibes Communication Ltd) Benin
29. Family Love FM (Multimesh Broadcasting Co. Ltd) Port-Harcourt
30. Wave FM (South Atlantic Media Ltd)
31. Kogi State Broadcasting Corporation
32. Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation
33. Niger State Broadcasting Corporation

34. Gombe State Broadcasting Corporation
35. Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation
36. Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation
37. Ondo State Broadcasting Corporation
38: Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation
39. Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation
40. Cross River State Broadcasting Corporation
41. Imo State Broadcasting Corporation
42. Anambra State Broadcasting Corporation
43. Borno State Broadcasting Corporation
44. Yobe State Broadcasting Corporation
45. Sokoto State Broadcasting Corporation
46. Zamfara State Broadcasting Corporation
47. Kebbi State Broadcasting Corporation
48. Jigawa State Broadcasting Corporation
49. Kaduna State Broadcasting Corporation
50. Katsina State Broadcasting Corporation

51. Lagos DSB

52. Silverbird TV (Silverbird Communications Co. Ltd)

SERAP Sues Buhari, Seeks Overturn Of Fines On Media Houses

A photo combination of SERAP’s logo and President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Sunday said it has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari for imposing fines on media houses for allegedly glorifying terrorism.

SERAP also wants the court to “declare arbitrary and illegal the N5 million imposed on Trust TV, Multichoice Nigeria Limited, NTA-Startimes Limited and TelcCom Satellite Limited, over their documentaries on terrorism in the country.”

The suit which was co-filed by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) has the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) joined as defendants.

Channels Television had reported how NBC imposed the fines on the media house on the grounds that their documentaries glorified the activities of bandits and undermined national security, an act that contravenes the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

But the groups in suit number FHC/L/CS/1486/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP and CJID are seeking: “an order setting aside the arbitrary and illegal fines of N5 million and any other penal sanction unilaterally imposed by the NBC on these media houses simply for carrying out their constitutional duties.”

READ ALSO: NBC Fines DSTV, Trust TV, Startimes, Others Over Documentary On Bandits

“The NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed have not shown that the documentaries by the media houses would impose a specific risk of harm to a legitimate State interest that outweighs the public interest in the information provided by the documentaries,” a statement issued by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, partly read.

“The documentaries by these independent media houses pose no risk to any definite interest in national security or public order.”

The plaintiffs stated that “It is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] to invoke the grounds of ‘glorifying terrorism and banditry’ as justifications for suppressing access to information of legitimate public interest that does not harm national security.”

It argued that the documentaries by the independent media houses are in the public interest, and punishing the media houses simply for raising public awareness about these issues would have a disproportionate and chilling effect on their work, and on the work of other journalists and Nigerians.

“The action by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed is arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional, as it is contrary to section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, and international human rights treaties including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Nigeria has ratified.”

The suit filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by their lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo read in part: “A fine is a criminal sanction and only the court is empowered by the Constitution to impose it. Fine imposed by regulatory agencies like the NBC without recourse to the courts is unfair, illegal, and unconstitutional.”

“The grounds of ‘glorifying terrorism and banditry’ used as the bases for sanctioning the media houses are entirely contrary to constitutional and international standards on freedom of expression and access to information.”

“Imposing any fine whatsoever without due process of law is arbitrary, as it contravenes the principles of Nemo judex in causa sua which literally means one cannot be a judge in his own cause and audi alteram partem which means no one should be condemned unheard.”

“Article 19 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights establishes the right to freedom of opinion without interference. Article 19(2) establishes Nigeria’s obligations to respect ‘the right to freedom of expression,’ which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information, regardless of frontiers.”

“Under article 19(3), restrictions on the right to freedom of expression must be ‘provided by law’, and necessary ‘for respect of the rights or reputations of others’ or ‘for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health and morals’”

“Although article 19(3) recognizes ‘national security’ as a legitimate aim, the Human Rights Council, the body charged with monitoring implementation of the Covenant, has stressed ‘the need to ensure that the invocation of national security is not used unjustifiably or arbitrarily to restrict the right to freedom of opinion and expression.’”

“The grounds for imposing fines on these independent media houses fail to meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

“The requirement of necessity also implies an assessment of the proportionality of the grounds, with the aim of ensuring that the excuse of ‘glorifying terrorism and banditry’ and ‘national security’ are not used as a pretext to unduly intrude upon the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.”

The plaintiffs are also seeking the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that the act of the Defendants imposing a fine of Five Million Naira each on the independent media houses is unlawful, inconsistent with, and amounts to a breach of the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and therefore a violation of the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom;

A DECLARATION that the use of the Broadcasting Code by the NBC to impose sanctions on the independent media houses for an alleged infractions without recourse to the court constitutes an infringement on the provisions of sections 6[1] & [6][b] and 36[1] of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 and Articles 1 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party;

A DECLARATION that the provisions of the National Broadcasting Commission Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which are arbitrarily being used by the Defendants to sanction, harass, intimidate and restrict the independent media houses are inconsistent and incompatible with sections 36[1], 39 and 22 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and are null and void to the extent of their inconsistency and incompatibility;

A DECLARATION that the Defendants lack the legal power and authority to impose penalty unlawfully and unilaterally, including fines, suspension, withdrawal of license or any form of punishment whatsoever on the independent media houses for promoting access to diverse opinions and information on issues of public importance;

AN ORDER OF COURT setting aside of the fine of Five Million Naira imposed by the Defendants, through the 3rd Defendant, each on Trust TV, Multichoice Nigeria Limited, TelCom Satellite Limited (TSTV) and NTA-Startimes Limited for televising the documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation “BBC Africa Eye” titled “Bandits Warlords of Zamfara”;

AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants or any other authority, persons or group of persons from unlawfully shutting down, imposing fine, suspension, withdrawal of license or doing anything whatsoever to harass and intimidate or impose criminal punishment on the independent media houses or any of Nigeria’s journalists and media houses for promoting access to diverse information on issues of public importance;

AND any other order or other order(s) that the Court deems fit to make in the circumstances

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

NBC Fines DSTV, Trust TV, Startimes, Others Over Documentary On Bandits

 

The National Broadcasting Commission on Wednesday imposed a five million naira fine on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV and Trust TV for broadcasting documentaries it said “glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security in Nigeria.”

NTA-Startimes Limited and TelcCom Satellite Limited (TSTV) were also fined five million naira each.

“The National Broadcasting Commission, today, August 3, 2022, imposed a Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) sanction, each, on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV, TelCom Satellite Limited (TSTV); NTA- Startimes Limited; for the carriage of the documentary by the BBC AFRICA EYE titled, “BANDITS WARLORDS OF ZAMFARA” which glorified the activities of Bandits and undermines National Security in Nigeria,” a statement signed by NBC Director-General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, said.

“Trust-TV Network Limited was also fined Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) for its documentary titled: ‘NIGERIA’S BANDITRY-THE INSIDE STORY’.

“While appreciating the need of educating, informing, and enlightening the public on issues bordering on developments and happenings within and outside the Country, the Commission wishes to seize this opportunity to advise broadcasters to be circumspect and deliberate in the choice and carriage of contents deleterious to Nigeria’s National security.

“Consequently, the airing and carriage of these documentaries, contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Sixth edition, especially, the underlisted Sections:

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.”

“The imposed penalties on these Broadcast Media platforms and Station is to be remitted not later than August 30, 2022. Failure to comply with this will lead to the imposition of a higher sanction as provided in the Code.

“Broadcasters are enjoined 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.

“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.”

Court Rules That NBC Can’t Regulate Advertising In Nigeria

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has held that the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) acted beyond its powers in seeking to regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria contrary to the provisions of the extant Advertising Practitioners (Regulation) Act of 2004.

The court also declared that the NBC lacks the power to prohibit exclusivity on privately acquired intellectual property right in programme contents of a right holder viz a viz the salient provisions of the constitution and the copyright act.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa also set aside the proposed amendment to the 6th Edition of the NBC Code for being ultra vires, incompetent null and void, and perpetually restrained the Commission from implementing it.

The court delivered the judgment, in a suit filed by a Lagos based journalist, Mr Femi Davies.

READ ALSO: Buhari Approves Reconstitution Of NBC Board

Mr Davies had approached the court contending among other things that the amendment sought by the defendant to the 6th edition of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code is in violation of his rights to own intellectual property in Nigeria over which he can exercise exclusive rights.

He had also argued that the amendment if allowed will greatly affect business and the development of the country as a whole as it will frustrate tonnes of investment and hard work of many years.

The NBC on its part had submitted that the amendment to the 6th broadcasting code was done to protect local operators, promote creativity and maximize local contents due to the anti trust provisions contained in the amendment.

It also claimed that the amendment was intended to among other things stimulate growth in the industry and attract foreign investment which would benefit the media industry generally.

But the plaintiff, Mr Davies argued amongst other things, that if allowed, the amendment would greatly violate his right to a fair hearing.

He asked the court to uphold his six reliefs as set out in his originating summons.

The plaintiff’s reliefs include “a declaration that the NBC lacks the requisite vires to prohibit exclusivity on privately acquired intellectual property right in program content of a right-holder viz-a-viz the salient provisions of the constitution and the Copyright Act.

“A declaration that the commission acted ultra-vires in so far as it sought to regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria contrary to the provisions of the extant Advertising Practitioners (Registration, etc) Act, 2004.

“A declaration that the commission acted ultra vires when it sought to retroactively compel right holders of programme content to compulsorily share extant right acquired under existing licence under the proposed amendment to the 6th Edition of the NBC Code.

“A declaration that the commission acted ultra vires when it sought to retroactively compel right holders of programme content to compulsorily share extant right acquired through a partnership and /or joint venture with an investor under the proposed Amendment to NBC Code.

“An order setting aside the amendment of the NBC Code and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NBC from implementing the Amendment to the NBC Code.

In his judgment, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held:

“I agree with the submission that acquisition of exclusive rights to Broadcast a particular program is an investment for returns and by virtue of the above-stated provisions, no one should be forced to surrender same when it is lawfully acquired…

“I am in agreement with the plaintiff counsel that the said proposed amendment is a violation of the principle of fair hearing and natural justice. The proposed amendment purports that the defendant NBC shall without any fact-finding or recourse to the other party place the advertising agency on its black list, solely based on the complaint of a media house to the defendant and the defendant acting has the authority to itself shall pass its verdict without hearing the other parties.

“I have determined the questions in the originating summon in favour of the plaintiff.

“For reasons hereinbefore given, consequently, all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff are granted as prayed. That is the judgment of the court .”