What are the reasons behind this?
According to the letter, signed by the acting Director-General of NBC, Armstrong Idachaba, Channels Television breached several broadcast codes on their live programme, ‘Politics Today’, on Sunday, the 25th of April, 2021. He said that the station allowed secessionist remarks and provocative declarations, as well as “derogatory, false and misleading statements about the Nigerian army.” The lack of caution to the interviewee, Emma Powerful, throughout the programme, is allegedly against broadcast codes.
Besides, Idachaba continued to state, IPOB is considered a terrorist organization by Nigerian courts. He, therefore, claimed that by having their spokesperson on air, the station had breached section 3.11.1(b) and 5.4.3 of the broadcast code, which provides that programmes shouldn’t contain content that may compromise national sovereignty. He went on to highlight how broadcasting was to be used to foster peace and unity amongst Nigerians: “broadcasting is expected to influence society positively, setting the agenda for the social, cultural, economic, political and technological development of a nation for the public good.”
Is Channels Still In Operation?
Channels Television is still broadcasting on paid outlets like DSTV, as well as on their digital platforms. It appears that they have only been suspended from broadcasting locally. They are also expected to stop the programme, ‘Politics Today.’
Also, although the letter from the commission stated that the station is also liable to an N5million fine, it’s only the suspension that’s been enforced.
What happened afterwards?
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has threatened to sue NBC if the suspension of Channels Television is not reversed within 48 hours. The organization’s deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare described the suspension as “unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, and without any legal basis whatsoever.” He went further to say that Nigeria has hit “a new low” in ensuring freedom of expression and the independence of the press.
Citizens have also expressed similar views and concerns about the protection of a free and independent press, especially as several stories are currently brewing in the country.