The Nigerian government on Thursday the 6th of June through the country’s broadcast regulator,the National Broadcasting Commission shut down Daar Communications PLC owners of the Africa Independent Television and Ray Power radio stations popularly called AIT and Ray power respectively.
The shut down even though in details indicates a temporary one will take immediate effect.
Revealing the details of the action at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the Director General of the Commission Mr Modibbo Kawu stated that the action was based on monitoring reports and complaints from concerned Nigerians about the broadcast contents of Daar Communications Plc’s AIT/Raypower broadcast stations.
“The NBC has over the last 2 years summoned on several occasions management of the company to address issues regarding the operations of AIT/Raypower with the company, particularly, a program called Political Platform and Kakaaki aired on AIT.
In one of our meetings, held on 2nd June, 2017, the Commission expressed its disappointment with the way and manner Hate Speech, divisive and inciting comments are applied in discussions of national issues in breach of the provisions of the NBC Act and Broadcast Code.
Again, on 15th August, 2017, it became imperative to invite the company for yet another meeting on almost same issues.
Furthermore, while addressing another meeting on 7th February, 2018 we (NBC) highlighted issues of concern which indicated that the company had been breaching the provisions of Sections 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 of the broadcast Code. The company’s delegates in their response promised to abate the breaches and comply with the law.
However, on October 18, 2018, the Commission was disturbed with the manner in which social media issues became part of the mainstream media unedited on AIT/Raypower, and was constrained to issue a generic letter to all broadcast stations on the need to exercise caution in the use of generated content from the social media, knowing how volatile and misleading the social media has become.’‘
According to the NBC, the management of Daar Communication Plc thereafter took to the social media to display official correspondences.
Recently, the Commission’s monitoring reports on AIT/Raypower indicate the use of divisive comments accredited to the segment of “Kakaaki”, tagged, “Kakaaki Social”, where inciting comments like, “Nigeria is cursed, we declare independent state of Niger Delta”, “Nigeria irritates me”, “this country is gradually Islamizing” and other similar slogans were used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast Code.We were therefore constrained to issue Daar Communication letters of warning dated May 27th, 2019.We also observed from monitoring reports that a documentary on the Presidential Election Tribunal, a pending election petition matter aired on AIT on Wednesday and Thursday, 22nd and 23rd May, 2019 without regard to the provisions of the Broadcast Code. The Commission, in line with its regulatory powers again cautioned AIT in another letter also dated 27thMay, 2019.
However, instead of making amends, the management of Daar Communications Plc resorted to the use of media propaganda against the regulator.
Even the letters from the NBC were posted on social media platforms.
“Needless to state that Daar Communications have over the years turned themselves into a bad example of how a professional broadcast outfit should not be run.In their relationship with the NBC, Daar Communications carry on, as if it is beyond the regulatory direction of the Commission. They don’t pay their licence fees as and when due.Its broadcast is patently partisan and one sided and deliberately inciting and heating the polity. The management of the Company has created the habit of using the channel to fight its personal battles contrary to the statutory requirements.
“AIT/Raypower embarked on use of inflammatory, divisive, inciting broadcasts, and media propaganda against the government and, the NBC for performing its statutory functions of regulating the broadcast industry in Nigeria.Consequently, after several meetings with management of Daar Communications Plc and many letters of warning.
According to the NBC DG, the Commission took a decision to suspend the licence of Daar Communications Plc for failure to abide by the Commission’s directives, the provisions of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”
The regulator affirmed that the decision was based on the provisions of Section 10 of theThird Schedule of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which states as follows:(d)
“Where in the opinion of the Commission the station has been used in a manner detrimental to national interest.(g) where there is willful or repeated failure to operate substantially as set forth in the licence(h), where there is willful or repeated violation or willful or repeated failure to observe any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission authorised by this Act or by a treaty ratified by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.(i), where there is violation of or failure to observe any cease and desist order issued by the Commission;(k), where a provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code has been seriously breached”
Speaking earlier at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the former chairman of Daar Communications PLC, Mr. Raymond Dokpesi said with the action of the government in power, the country’s democracy was being endangered.
Chief Dokpesi charged Nigerians, the civil society organisations, the media industry and the country’s legislature to work out everything possible to curb the menace of Press intimidation.