The Management of Daar Communications, a broadcast outfit, Thursday raised the alarm that ahead of 2019 general and Presidential elections, the federal government is out to muzzle and stifle them out of operations.
According to the media outfit, owners of African Independent Television, AIT and Raypower, said that to achieve this infringement on their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, the government was using the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to arm twist them to support the incumbent administration.
Addressing Journalists recently in Abuja, the Group Managing Director of DAAR Communications, Mr Tony Akiotu, stressed that besides the claim by the commission that they exceeded their transmitting band of 100.5MHz, the broadcast regulatory body has unleashed a fresh onslaught against them just like it did to them shorty after 2015.
Akiotu said “they have been invited several times by the commission to either drop some presenters or decimate/tone down the vibrancy of the programme.”
It would be recalled that NBC had accused the media organization of “Exceeding the allowed band occupancy limit”, from 100.3MHz to 100.6MHz.
The commission also recently slammed the media house over over its political programme, ‘Political Platform’ for “persistent and flagrant infringement on the provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code on your programme”. The commission however fined them, N500,000 and N1,000,000 for the two offences, which they paid.
On the sanction slammed on them over the political programme, Akiotu said “At various times, through overtures from the commission, we have been requested to navigate the course of the discourse on progamme to desperately support the seating government at all cost irrespective of the glaring security challenges, killings and the pervading socio-political and economic dislocations that abound in the country which are daily expressed through the mails from the citizenry and the analysts.
“We use this golden opportunity to state our own side if the story considering the worrisome, arm twisting dimension that the unfolding drama by the commission is taking in a most unpredictable manner that belies the operational guidelines as enunciated in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
“State that gradually and steadily, the commission under the present leadership as constituted is determined to intimidate, undermine and ultimately, programmed to muzzle the constitutional rights guaranteeing the freedom of speech enuciated in the human rights charter of the constitution of the Federal Republic of of Nigeria and global statues.
“Emphasised that under the guise of Nigerian Broadcasting Code, the commission has decided to interpret and enforce unambiguous provisions either through outright breaches of the wilful reinvention of the wheels.”
Akiotu explained that fines were unjust explained thus “we decided to obey and pay because we didn’t want to show that we are above the law and to make them know we are a law abiding body being the flagship private broadcast organisation in the country.”
The group Managing Director who that the accusation that they exceeded their broadcast bandwidth is strange to them, said, “We wish for state that possibly due to some ulterior motives calculated at a deterministic agenda, the commission hurriedly without recourse to its records, to verify certain facts, did not also know that video a letter reference No. NBC/11/s.26/Vol 1.259 dates February 10, 1999; signed by Mr. Bright E. Igbako, DAAR Communications Limited (as it then was) was issued a frequency assignment to Raympower FM radio Relay state in Abuja, letter for Transmission Boundary of 100.410 MHz to 100.590MHz and the operating Frequency of 100.5MHz.”