Nigerian Broadcasting Commission suspends DAAR communications licence

Solomon Chung, Abuja

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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.

Ime Njoku