The National Broadcasting Commission says it will sanction Ondo State Television Service for broadcasting hate speech against Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti during the recent governorship election in the state.
Director-General of the commission, Alhaji Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu, disclosed this to News Agency of Nigeria in Ilorin and said that NBC would not tolerate impunity as the 2019 general elections approached.
He said the commission would be neutral and apolitical in the discharge of its statutory duties, including the enforcement of the National Broadcasting Code.
Kawu said: “From the Ekiti election, one interesting thing played out.
“We discovered that in a neighbouring state, Ondo, a broadcast station there, the Ondo State Television Service, was broadcasting hate speech against Ekiti Governor, Ayodele Fayose.
“For us in NBC, this is against the national broadcasting code and we are going to sanction that particular station.
“We do not pick and choose which station to sanction. We monitor all radio and TV broadcasting stations in the country and when you flout the code, you are going to be sanctioned.
“On a quarterly basis, we will bring out the list of those we had sanctioned and the reasons and post it in our website and distribute to media houses.”
He said that the commission recently studied the contents of live broadcast of political rallies and discovered that politicians from the ruling party and the opposition were guilty of hate speech.
He said that broadcast stations would, henceforth, be held liable for such infractions against their practice code.
He said: “Politicians tend to just say anything on air; they demonize the opponents, they profile them and say the most horrendous things.
“The political parties are not our licensees, so, we cannot hold them liable. However, the TV stations that broadcast the rally live have an obligation.
“We are issuing the report on the studies to the government, political parties and broadcast houses that if you broadcast live materials that flout the national broadcasting code, you are going to be held liable.
“They have to get their acts together and begin to discuss with the people who come to pay heavy sum of money to do live broadcast, that there are certain things you cannot say,” the director-general explained.
He said that as the 2019 general elections approached, the NBC had become particularly visible, sensitising its licensees to their responsibilities to the nation and the need to respect regulatory code.
“For instance, elections are coming very soon in Osun state. Two weeks ago, we were in the state, met the stakeholders – all the broadcast stations, political parties and security forces.
“We held a one day workshop to emphasise the importance of adherence to the code.
“We have a responsibility to our country, to help to use broadcasting to assist the Nigerian people to make informed choices among the different political parties.
“But, we should not use broadcasting to cause confusion in our country. One of my pet phrases is that we must first have a country, before we have broadcasting.’’
Modibbo-Kawu recalled that in the build-up to the Ekiti election, the commission sanctioning a couple of stations, especially the state-owned broadcast stations.
He said: “We were forced by the circumstances of the actions taken there, to close the Ekiti Broadcasting Services.
“First of all, the state government had appointed the DG of the EBS as the DG of Campaign of one of the political parties.
“The appointment was not in consonance with the objectives of the NBC, so, we wrote a letter to the broadcaster and the governor of the state, but they ignored us.
“Secondly, when President Muhammadu Buhari visited the state, the governor made a broadcast that the people should not turn out to receive the president.
“This was beyond politics, so we sanctioned the station.
“Soon after the elections, before INEC announced the results, the state governor went to radio and television to begin to announce his own results.
“We felt that was the point we had to act and we closed another station.”
Modibbo-Kawu said NBC also closed down a station which was on test transmission, but engaged in political broadcasting against the national broadcasting code.