NBC fines Channels TV, Arise, AIT for using unverified #EndSARS footages from social media

THE National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) says it would impose sanctions on Channels Television, African Independent Television, AIT, and Arise TV for gross violation of the broadcast code, which involves majorly the use of unverifiable online video footages of the #ENDSARS protest on social media.

Professor Armstrong Idachaba, NBC acting Director-General who disclosed this on Monday at a press conference held in Abuja said a fine of N3 million would be imposed on each of the television stations.

Idachaba warned that this would be the last warning before a heavier sanction would be introduced, adding that a second violation would be met with a heavier punishment.

He also announced that DAAR Communications, owners of AIT would be fined separately for using an unverifiable news item on the fire incident at the National Christian Centre.

Idachaba noted the retraction by the station but said that there must be consequences.

The fine is based on the revamped NBC Code. The NBC described as unprofessional, the conduct of the stations to provide their platforms for the promotion of what it labelled as unverifiable videos that could encourage or incite people to crime and lead to public disorder.

Since the military action against #ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate last week Tuesday series of vedios and pictures have appeared on the social media depicting victims of the shootings.

Many of the videos and pictures have turned out to be unverified, misleading and in most cases untrue.

In the wake of the #ENDSARS protest, the official Twitter account of the NBC was compromised by a group of Internet hacktivists called Anonymous who also joined the #EndSARS protest.

The group which is known for hacking repressive government’s websites also attacked the Nigeria Police Force website as it joined the call for the reformation of the police.

Amnesty International in a report confirmed that the Army and Police killed at least 12 peaceful #ENDSARS protesters in Lekki and Alausa, another area of Lagos where the protests were being held. The army has denied the involvement of their men in the shooting

The #ENDSARS protest, which began on a peaceful note has since gone violence after hired thugs started attacking protesters, several states have also had a taste of wanton destruction, looting of public and private properties.

Meanwhile, the Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked NBC to rescind the fine within 48 hours or face legal action.

    “We condemn the illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests. We’ll sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours,” SERAP tweeted. 

    It said the action by NBC was yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices.

    “The NBC should drop the fines and uphold the Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom.”

    SERAP said the defines were detrimental to freedom of expression and the media, and access to information in Nigeria, and the NBC must withdraw the decision. Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information.

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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