Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has ordered the African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower 100.5 FM to ensure balance in its news coverage, especially political commentaries.
The court also ordered the parent company, Darr Communication Plc to always furnish the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) “with a concrete and realistic proposal” and ensure the prompt payment of the outstanding licence renewal fee.
The decision of Justice Inyang Ekwo is contained in the terms of settlement reached the NBC and Daar Communications Plc over their dispute which led to the recent suspension of the national broadcast licences of the media company’s African Independent Television and Raypower 100.5 FM.
The said terms of settlement between the parties were on Wednesday adopted as the judgment of the court in the suit filed against the commission by the broadcast company.
Justice Inyang Ekwo delivered the “consent judgment” after Daar Communications’ lawyer adopted the terms of settlement dated June 20, 2019, and filed before the court on June 25.
While Daar Communications was represented by Idongesit Udofia of the law firm of Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) Bright Igbako represented NBC (the first respondent) and O. A. Oloruntogbe appeared for the Attorney-General of Federation.
All the lawyers did not oppose the terms of settlement.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, was not represented by any lawyer.
But having reached a compromise on the part of the lawyers, Justice Ekwo subsequently adopted all the seven terms in the agreement consented to without any alteration as the court’s judgment.
He ordered among others, that Daar Communications should furnish the NBC “with a concrete and realistic proposal” and ensure the prompt payment of the outstanding licence renewal fee.
The judge also ordered the company to ensure balance in its news coverage, especially political commentary on its stations across the country.
And the court, having entered judgment per terms of the settlement adopted, ordered as follows:
“That the plaintiff (DAAR Communications Plc) shall furnish the 1st defendant (National Broadcasting Commission) with a concrete and realistic proposal and ensure the prompt payment of the outstanding licence renewal fee for its National Network Broadcast licence (Radio/T.V).
“That the plaintiff shall take full editorial responsibility for the use of content sourced from social media and all/any other outlets.
“That the plaintiff shall ensure that all programmes transmitted on its TV/Radio stations across the country comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap. NH, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code as may be in force or/and as amended from time to time.
“That the 1st defendant shall withdraw forthwith, the suspension of the National Network Broadcast licence (Radio/TV) of the plaintiff.
“That the terms of settlement tiled and adopted is hereby entered as judgement of this court in this suit.
“That each of the parties shall bear its own costs of this action.”