In the just concluded week, Nigeria-based independent media and entertainment mainstream company, Daar Communications Plc, the owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower Radio, had the licenses of both its stations suspended indefinitely by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Thursday, over the stations’ alleged breaches of the broadcasting code through “the use of inflammatory, divisive, inciting broadcasts and media propaganda against the government and the NBC”.
According to the Director-General of NBC, Mallam Modibbo Kawu, the suspension of the two broadcasting stations was due the failure of the company to abide by the Commission’s directives and for breaching the provisions of the Sections 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 of the broadcast Code, amongst other things.
In response, DAAR Communications founder, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, led the management team of the broadcasting organisation to form pickets at the National Assembly and some embassies in Abuja over what he termed harassment and intimidation of the company and its officials. Also, the Group Managing Director of the company, Mr. Tony Akiotu, made known the company’s resolve to abide by the closure order while also seeking redress at the court of law.
Reacting, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), via a statement by its President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, condemned the NBC’s perceived harsh sanctions, and advised the NBC to “immediately reopen AIT to ensure that it continues to promote debate and opinions on issues that are of societal, economic and political importance to the nation”.
We opine that the suspension of Daar Communications plc’s broadcasting license is a rather worrisome development in this day and age when freedom of the press, the promotion of transperency and accountability, and freedom of speech should be a fundamentl human right – as we have in developed economies.
It is common knowledge that Nigeria’s mainstream broadcast media tend to air contents which, in several cases, appear to be streamlined to the political persuations of their promoters on either side of the political divide – as well have in the U.S. where mainstream media houses, such as CNN and Fox News, tend to be aligned to opposing political parties with their conflicting ideologies.
We therefore advise against measures that could weaken the fourth estate of the realm which ought to be seen as a blessing rather than a curse to the Nigeria’s fledgling democracy.
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