Broadcast Code: NPC should determine what amounts to hate speech – IBAN

The Board of the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) said the Five Million Naira fine imposed on hate speech is excessive, as it is a creation of the now disputed amendments to the 6th broadcasting code.

IBAN stated at an emergency board meeting on Monday 17th August, 2020 held to deliberate on the issue of the recent Five Million Naira fine imposed on one of its members (Nigeria Info FM) by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for allegedly promoting hate speech.

In a statement signed by its Chairman, Guy Murray-Bruce, IBAN added that while it concedes the right to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria to the NBC, some cogent issues that must not be ignored in this instant case.

The statement reads: “The Five Million Naira (N5m) fine imposed is excessive, as it is a creation of the now disputed amendments to the 6th broadcasting code. We feel that in the absence of a universal buy in to the amendments of the code, it is premature for the management of the commission to implement any aspect of the disputed amendments. 

“We also believe that the omnibus authority the NBC has arrogated to itself of being the accuser, judge and executioner in these matters flies in the face of the principle of fair hearing. The commission’s determination of what amounts to hate speech ought to be verified by an independent body before sanctions are imposed. As it stands now, the commission could on a whim label anything hate speech and then go ahead to impose a fine without the accused having the benefit of a fair hearing. 

“Information available to us points to the existence of the Nigerian Press Council with the mandate to uphold ethical and professional standards in the media, investigate complaints against the Press, monitor activities of the press, research on contemporary press development, investigate obstacles to the flow of information, protect the rights and privileges of journalists. 

“In our view the Nigerian Press Council which is made up of representatives from the following institutions, The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, The Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria News Agency of Nigeria, The Federal Ministry of Information and the general Public is best suited to determine what might amount to a media infraction. 

“We therefore recommend that the NBC refer any alleged infraction of a broadcasting entity to the council for determination before sanctions are imposed.  

“We hereby respectfully call on the management of the NBC to hold off on imposing any sanctions until the above stated issues are addressed. Indeed, we recommend that stakeholders and the management of the NBC enter into another round of consultations and dialogue on the amendments to the 6th Broadcasting code as a way forward.”

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