The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Monday slammed Arise Tv with N2m fine for broadcasting fake news against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in violation of the NBC code.
The sanction was contained in a letter of November 13, 2022 and addressed to the management of the station.
The letter which was signed by the Director-General of the Commission noted that the station failed to comply with the broadcasting code for airing a statement purportedly signed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (NEC).
The commission noted that Arise TV committed the infraction, despite its recent sensitization programme for the broadcasters.
The station was fined, following a protest letter to the NBC by the Special Adviser, Media, Communications and Public Affairs, APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Mr. Dele Alake.
The station had used a statement purportedly signed by INEC National Commissioner Festus Okoye that Tinubu was been investigated but the INEC had since denied the statement.
The sanction which some described as a mere slap on the wrist given the weight of the falsehood, followed a petition from the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), asking for sanctions against some television stations for what the PCC called “their fake reports on the APC Presidential Candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
The PCC charged both television stations with violating the broadcast code in a letter addressed to the Director-General of NBC, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, and signed by Mr. Dele Alake, the PCC’s Special Adviser for Media, Communications, and Public Affairs.
The Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council’s Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, acknowledged the development in a statement on Monday.
Alake pointed out in the appeal that the alleged indictment against Tinubu that was published and discussed on these stations had already been dropped in a communication between the US government and the then-inspector general of police, Tafa Balogun.
The PCC said that the NBC code had been broken by continuing to broadcast a fake “indictment.”
The petition read, “The case in question, which did not indict our candidate, has since been overtaken by events after interrogation and correspondences between then Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun in 2003 and the United States government. The US Justice Department in a letter dated 4th February, 2003, issued by the Lagos Consulate of the United States Embassy cleared our candidate. The letter was signed by Michael Bonner, the Consulate’s legal attache.
“The Campaign Council was therefore surprised that certain media houses, went ahead to transmit and broadcast issues purportedly indicting our candidate in violation of section 33 I of the Code which says that:
“The Broadcaster shall ‘ensure that any information given in a programme in whatever form is accurate’.
“We believe that the operators of the stations, by their professional standing, should have access to research platforms to verify information before dishing it to the public.”
The PCC further charged that in their interviews with Festus Keyamo, SAN, and the spokesperson for the opposition PDP, respectively, both stations had used the already-cleared document.
According to the suit, both stations went a step further and broadcast a bogus letter that was in the public domain that was allegedly issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission and said that Tinubu was the subject of an investigation.
“Notwithstanding the broadcast of the falsehood, these stations went ahead to transmit and circulate a fake letter insinuating that the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has initiated an investigation of the APC Presidential candidate premised on the fake letter in circulation.
“Section 5.1.2 states that ‘The Broadcaster shall present news as factual and in correct and fair manner without (a) Distortion, Exaggerations or Misrepresentation.
“Section 5.1.3 further states that ‘Fake News is prohibited’.
“The fake INEC letter has been proven to be fake and this breach is tantamount to disinformation.”
The APC Presidential Campaign Council detailed additional offenses against these stations, which it claimed were notorious for publishing fabricated stories against Tinubu.
The NBC was tasked by the PCC to impose the proper penalties on these television stations.
“Our Presidential candidate was vilified and denigrated as an indicted offender and law breaker in the US court case by these stations during their broadcasts in the last week.
“Section 3.1.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code also states that-
“The Broadcaster shall not transmit any programme, programme promotion, community service announcement or station identity which is likely in any circumstance to provoke or perpetuate in a reasonable person intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or groups of people..
“For the effect of reference of powers to sanction erring broadcasters, The Code states in Chapter One, Section 1.1 (h) ‘The Power to establish and disseminate the code is derived from the provisions of Section 2 (1) (h) of the NBC Act, which is its enabling law.
“We hereby request the National Broadcasting Commission to sanction the offending Stations in the name of justice and in protection of the rights of our candidate as well as avoidance of future reoccurrence,” Alake said in the petition.