• We acted in best public interest, says TV station

  • IPC: Fine imposed on station, arbitrary, unacceptable

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) yesterday slammed a fine of N5 million against Trust Television Network (Trust TV).

The media house, NBC said, must remit the money not later than August 30, 2022, or face higher sanction, as provided in the regulatory body’s National Broadcasting Code.

Trust TV incurred the wrath of the broadcasting regulator for airing a documentary, titled: Nigeria’s Banditry: The Inside Story, on March 5, 2022.

The NBC, in a letter, dated August 3, 2022, which was signed by its Director General, Balarabe Shehu Illela, said the fine was imposed on Trust TV because its broadcast of the documentary contravened sections of the National Broadcasting Code.

In a statement in Abuja, the NBC said it relied on Section 3.1.1 of the broadcasting code.

The statement reads: “While appreciating the need of educating, informing, and enlightening the public on issues bordering on developments and happenings within and outside the country, the commission wishes to seize this opportunity to advise broadcasters to be circumspect and deliberate in the choice and carriage of contents deleterious to Nigeria’s national security.

“Consequently, the airing and carriage of these documentaries contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Sixth Edition, especially the underlisted sections:

  • 3.1.1: “No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organisation, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity”; among others.

Reacting to the sanction in a statement, the management of Media Trust Group said: “While we are currently studying the commission’s action and weighing our options, we wish to state unequivocally that as a television station, we believe we were acting in the public interest by shedding light on the thorny issue of banditry and how it is affecting millions of citizens of our country.”

Also, the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, Nigeria has denounced the N5 million fine the NBC slammed against Trust TV.

In a statement yesterday by its Press Freedom Officer, Melody Lawal, the centre described the fine as arbitrary and unacceptable.

“In the circumstance, the IPC considers the fine imposed on Trust TV an act of injustice, an assault on media freedom and a violation of the right of the people to know the truth about the dynamics of banditry in the country and the decision should therefore be reversed,” said IPC Executive Director Lanre Arogundade.

The statement added: “We call on the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other bodies championing freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the country to rise in unison in condemnation of this new development and hostility by the government.”