The National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) has sanctioned four television stations over what it called hate speech.
The Director General of the commission, Is’haq Kawu, disclosed this on Wednesday at a press briefing in Abuja.
The affected stations are Channels Television, African Independent Television(AIT), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Television Continental (TVC).
Kawu said the start of campaigns on October 18 made the national stations to be filled with activities, such as sponsored live rallies, debates and campaigns by political parties, particularly the two major ones; the All Progressives Congress(APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
“There are new entries into the Nigerian Broadcasting Code. The sixth edition of the code contains very strong entries about hate and dangerous speech and the consequence of broadcasting in the country,” he said.
He said the commission had observed through monitoring of the stations that politicians “have refused to learn from mistakes of the past despite efforts of the NBC to sensitise and remind them of their responsibilities.”
According to Kawu, “We monitored live rallies and campaigns of the parties and in recent times, live political rallies of political parties have been laced with indecent and abusive language, name calling and vehement allegations and use of hate speech.
“For instance, on January 10, 2019, at the presidential campaign rally of the PDP broadcast by the AIT, the national chairman of the party accused INEC of rigging previous elections and threatened crisis if elections were rigged.
“Some of the excerpts were: ‘We want to warn INEC, all the previous elections you rigged and you escaped, the 2019 elections, you cannot escape unless you want to cause crisis in Nigeria. Let us warn Prof Yakubu; if you want to cause crisis in Nigeria, rig the elections. If you want peace, elections must be free and fair.’ That is from The PDP.
“At a live APC governorship rally held on Friday, January 3, 2019, and aired on the NTA, a stalwart of the APC, Rotimi Amaechi, was quoted as saying ‘I will just continue to say the truth. The truth I will tell you is that they are telling Nigerians that Nigerians are hungry. Indeed, if Nigerians are hungry, if these people left money they stole, will Nigerians be hungry? Exactly the $2bn that they stole. At least, I know about that one, we will not be here today.’
“The party chairman also added ‘You must remember that the last PDP government turned Plateau workers to slaves and so on and so forth.’
“The expressions in the excerpts captured, can be seen to be abusive and not decent for broadcast contrary to certain sections of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code: 525, 533.”
He said further, “So, based on the foregoing, the four main channels that have been broadcasting; the AIT, the TVC News, Channels TV and the NTA, are culpable and contravening the provisions of the Code on Political Broadcast in line with the provisions of Sections 524 of the Code.”
He said letters had been sent to the affected organisations notifying them about their offences and fine.
He stated that television stations would be held responsible for abuses from those speaking on their live broadcast.