National News

2015 Polls: National Broadcast Commission sanctions 35 broadcast stations

The National Broadcasting Commission has said that it sanctioned 35 broadcast stations for violation of the broadcasting code during the 2011 general elections.

The Director, Spectrum Administration, NBC, Mr. Mark Ojiah, disclosed this in a lecture entitled: ‘2015 general elections: Ensuring fairness, decency and access in broadcast media’ at a sensitisation meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Director-General, NBC, Mr. Emeka Mbah, who confirmed that some stations had also been sanctioned for their role in the events leading to this year’s general elections, advised broadcast stations to sign agreements with political parties before taking life campaign broadcasts.

Ojiah said, “Thirty-five broadcast stations were sanctioned for various breaches, including advertisement less than 24 hours to voting; giving undue advantage to some parties in programmes; and non-equitable airtime.”

Others offences that attracted the wrath of the regulator were negative adverts, speculation or announcement of results, and not keeping logs of political programmes.

In an interview with journalists, Mbah said broadcast stations could avoid running afoul of the law by signing pacts with political parties to enable them take out provocative statements, especially during life broadcasts.

He admitted that the regulatory agency had concerns with several phone-in programmes as well as many stations owned by state governments thrived on impunity and failed to give access to opposition parties.

Mbah said, “Day by day, there are minor breaches. No one in the industry will like to risk their INVESTMENTin the broadcast industry. Where we tend to have issues are largely the television stations that are owned by the state governments.

“We also have issues with phone-in programmes and life political broadcasts. Other areas we have problems are the paid for political campaigns where people go on soap box and say things largely because they think they paid for it, they can say all sorts of things.

“We are not saying people cannot pay for you to go on life broadcasting; we all need the money. The responsibility for what goes on air at the end of the day, however, rests with the broadcaster and not the politician or the party that has paid the money.