Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has cautioned reailty TV production Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) against broadcasting “unwholesome content” in the country.
The broadcast regulator also expressed concern over the continuous flouting of the Broadcasting Code by DAAR Communications Plc, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower 100.5FM.
NBC Director-General Is’haq Modibbo Kawu made this known in Abuja while briefing reporters on the second quarter monitoring of broadcast stations.
The monitoring, according to Kawu, covered the period from April to June 2019.
Kawu added that coming shortly after the national and state elections in the first quarter of the year, the report indicated that, though there was a drop in breaches related to hateful, abusive and inflammatory broadcast, which peaked during the elections, and for which as many as 45 stations were fined, the second quarter indicated that the trend had continued among certain stations, especially in political programmes.
He revealed that 20 stations were fined in the second quarter for breaching provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code on Hate Speech.
Other breaches, Kawu added, were in the area of obscene and vulgar lyrics, with a total of ten stations were fined.
“It is worth mentioning that the programme Big Brother Naija was cautioned against unwholesome content on its broadcast,” he said.
“Use of unsubstantiated and misleading claims by advertisers, especially trado-medic advertising, also dropped significantly from the last quarter, but a total of 30 stations were fined for infractions related to same.
“Ten broadcast stations were fined for breaches related to station announcers turning themselves to advertisers, hypers and promoters of product,” Kawu said.
In its observation in terms of obscenity, the NBC noted that Kaduna zone recorded the highest with 36.53 percent, followed by Abuja zone with 17.31 percent and Uyo zone came third with 15.38 percent.
On hate speech, Kawu said Abuja zone topped the chart with 19.21 percent, followed by Kaduna zone with 18.22 percent while Maiduguri zone came third with a record of 15.27 percent, while the least in hate speech was Ibadan zone with 6.89 percent.
“Unprofessionalism: Three zones topped the chart with the same percentages. Kaduna zone, Sokoto zone and Uyo topped the chart with 20.00 percent each, followed by Jos zone with 3.85 percent, while Ibadan and Benin recorded lowest with 2.95 percent and 3.44 percent.
“Unverifiable Claims: Ibadan zone recorded highest with 25.33, followed by Abuja zone with 13.33 percent, while Jos zone and Kaduna zones came 3rd with 12.00 percent each and Sokoto zone and Uyo recorded the lowest with 2.67 percent each.
“Advertisement: Abuja zone recorded highest with 24.43 percent, followed by Enugu zone with 16.40 percent, while Maiduguri zone recorded lowest with 1.53 percent.
“Technical Breach: Maiduguri zone recorded highest with 31.81 percent, followed by Benin zone and Sokoto zone recording same scores of 22.73 percent each, while Abuja zone, Enugu zone and Jos zone recorded the lowest with 4.54 percent each.
“Fines: Abuja zone recorded highest with 47.17 percent , Ibadan zone came second with 15.09 percent, Benin came 3rd with 13.22 percent while the lowest was Enugu Zone with 1.89 percent,” Kawu also said.
The NBC further cautioned stations on a pattern of behaviour which it said was a threat to the nation’s democracy and the rule of law.
“Our monitoring activities indicate that some stations, especially AIT, are deliberately meddling in the cases before the election tribunal. It is trite knowledge that the media cannot comment on or discuss the details of any matter in court. The Broadcast Code in Section 1.16.1(f) requires all broadcasters to comply with the law of contempt relating to matters pending before the law courts.
“AIT has defied all action to ensure that the station complies with the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. In the last few months, our monitoring reports indicate that AIT has continued to air programmes that dwell on the on-going case of the presidential elections, and issues relating to matters in law courts, without regard to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and extant laws.
“On Monday 19th August to Sunday, August 25, 2019, the station aired different documentaries centred on matters before 2019 Presidential Election Tribunal; the action was prejudicial and could be termed contempt of court.
“Specifically, on Monday 19th August 2019, a documentary titled “Who is a Nigerian” was aired between 10:00 pm to 10:47 pm. It centred on how the former provinces of Northern Cameroun became a Nigerian enclave. Track ups were given to some respondents who made statements like “Atiku is indeed a Nigerian.” This came a day after the APC had asked the presidential election tribunal to strikeout Atiku/PDP petition on the basis of Section 131(a) of the Nigerian Constitution, which mandates that a presidential candidate must be Nigerian by birth.
“On Tuesday, 20th August 2019, between 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm, AIT aired another documentary titled “The Many Troubles of INEC: A Documentary on Mahmood Yakubu and the chequered Road to 2019.” This documentary contained an allegation that the 2019 presidential election was marred by a well-organised manipulation, violence and intimidations. It alleged that some actions taken by INEC were premeditated and schemed to favour the APC. It ended with Atiku’s petition seeking relief to be declared winner of the 2019 presidential election on the nullification of the election.
“Then on Wednesday 21st August 2019, from 10:00 pm to 10:36 pm, a similar documentary to “Who is a Nigerian” was also broadcast. References were made to how some communities, like Daura Emirate, were allegedly formerly part of Niger Republic, and have now become part of Nigeria. It queried what becomes of persons whose citizenship had been declared to be non-Nigerian. The programme also appeared to promote the cause of the proscribed IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) saying their agitation is legitimate under the United Nation Charter on Universal Declaration of Human and People’s Rights.
“Again, on Thursday 22nd August 2019, between 10:00 pm and 10:30 pm, there was a repeat of the documentary “Nigerian Judiciary on Trial: Lessons from Kenya,” first aired on 23rd May 2019, and for which the station was warned.
“On Friday 23rd August 2019 another documentary “INEC and the Agony of a Nation” started and ended after one minute, a documentary on Akwa Ibom was taken instead.
“Similarly, on Saturday 24th August 2019, the same documentary on INEC and the Agony of a Nation was fully aired and it made assertions that “manipulations” of 2019 presidential election have not only disrupted democratic consolidation in Nigeria, but have robbed the people of their fundamental right to make choices. The current INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood’s tenure was also described as the worst in the history of INEC.
“Again, on Sunday 25th August 2019, another documentary was aired with title: “INEC and Qualification Requirements: The facts, the Issues,” from 10:40pm to 10:56pm. The documentary called on the court as the last hope of the common man to correct an alleged dereliction of duty on the part of INEC in allowing an individual who is not eligible to contest an election to do so,” Kawu said of DAAR Communications Plc.
Kawu added that the station management was invited for a discussion at NBC headquarters on 5th September, 2019 over their disregard of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and consenting court settlement between the regulator and licensee from July, 2018.
Kawu further said the invitation was borne out of the station’s repeated airing of various offending documentaries and a persistent pattern of discussing matters pending in court.
“In spite of this effort, on 10th September, 2019, during the highlight of the news hour, there was a vox pop taken that centred on the outcome of the presidential election judgment. The standpoint of the station was clear from what the newscaster said: ‘Residents of Enugu State, South-East Nigeria express concern on the inability of the nation’s judiciary to serve justice to the people.’They already questioned the judgment of the tribunal before it was declared, even when they know that there should be no comments on any matter that is before the law court,” NBC further said.