The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has been accused of acting arbitrarily and unfairly by the International Press Centre (IPC) over the imposition of a N5m fine on Channels Television.
The regulatory body fined the station over an interview with the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Datti Ahmed, in which he expressed strong opposition to the swearing-in of the President Elect, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, on May 29, 2023, alleging that it would be tantamount to the end of democracy.
The IPC, in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Lanre Arogundade, stated that the NBC acted injudiciously by not availing Channels TV the opportunity to defend itself against the allegations made by the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council’s Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, before imposing the hefty fine.
The IPC also accused the NBC of becoming a willing tool of the ruling government or party to suppress press freedom.
Mr. Arogundade emphasized the need for the NBC to act more cautiously in cases involving high-ranking government officials, such as Mr. Onanuga, who speaks for the incoming President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He also stressed that the fundamental principles that ought to guide the regulation of broadcasting and related activities are the ones that advance the public interest and are investment-friendly, both of which have been discarded in the handling of the petition.
The IPC urged the NBC to immediately reverse the hastily imposed fine and give Channels TV the deserved opportunity to defend itself.
It also called on the commission to desist from undermining its credibility and independence, which weakens the broadcast sector as a result.
According to IPC, the incident is not the first time that the NBC has been accused of acting arbitrarily in the purported exercise of its powers as the regulatory authority for the broadcast sector in Nigeria.
Further, IPC stated the regulatory body must ensure that it follows established principles of natural justice, which make fair hearing sacrosanct.
IPC reiterated that NBC must also prioritize the public interest and investment-friendly principles in its regulation of broadcasting activities.