#EndSARS: NBC sanctions AIT, Channels, Arise TV over Lekki shooting reports

The National Broadcasting Station (NBC) has sanctioned three broadcast stations N3 million each over the roles they allegedly played in the escalation of violence across the nation.

The three stations were accused of airing unverified images of the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate.

The Acting Director General of NBC Professor Armstrong Idachaba said the Commission was concerned about the professional misdemeanour of some broadcasting stations in the past couple of days.

“Whereas it can be said that the Nigerian media especially the broadcast media discharged its role professionally and most patriotic in confronting the challenge of COVID-19 crisis, the same cannot be said of the coverage of the recent #EndSARS campaign,” he said.

He said at the early stage of the protest, the commission observed that the broadcast industry largely gave a fair and balanced coverage to the issues.

He, however, he said the trend became completely reversed when violence, wanton destruction and looting were added to the dimensions.

“Perhaps in the eagerness to break news and be pacesetters, stations engaged in the very unprofessional attitude of the speculative and unverifiable broadcast.”

He cited some Nigeria Broadcasting Code which was violated by the three television stations which include “5.6.1: In contemporary times, the impact of modern technology has significantly enabled citizen’s contribution to journalism, which are beneficial to broadcasting. In this genre of citizens reportage, deploys such facilities as “User Generated Content” UGC, providing instantaneous eye-witness account of events. Such technological benefits place further demand on the broadcaster to be more cautious of its editorial responsibility.

“5.6.2: News materials sent in by public must be vetted by a broadcaster who has editorial responsibility.

“5.6.3 The broadcaster shall be mindful of materials that may embarrass individuals or organisations or cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the Society, in the usage of UGC.”

Professor Idachaba there said “Channels Television, Arise TV and AIT especially continued to transmit footages obtained from unverified and unauthenticated social media sources.  No doubt these pictures stimulated anger and heightened the violence that was witnessed during the crisis.

“We believe that the whole country has now seen why the spurious and recklessness on the social media must not be patronised by the mainstream traditional media. Broadcasters who therefore dogmatically patronise the social media must bury their heads in shame.

“The Commission wishes to seize this opportunity to condemn in total terms the assault and intimidation of media houses. The burning of TVC Lagos, the brief closure of Channels TV Lagos are all worrisome indicators of mob treat to the freedom of the press. No nation can grow when the citizens muzzle and intimidate its press.

“We are at the stage of our nation’s history when our broadcasters have a crucial responsibility for responsive and professional broadcasting. By picking unverified, unsubstantiated social media sources and repeating the narratives, our broadcasters have shown crass lack of professionalism and a disposition to be escalators of conflict and more seriously a threat to Nigeria.

“In line with the provisions of section 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which states that; ‘the broadcaster shall be held liable for any breach of the Code emanation from the use of material from User Generated Sources’. The Commission has therefore sanctioned Arise TV, Channels TV and AIT in line with the provisions of the Broadcasting Code. This is to serve as a deterrent to broadcasters who deliberately ignore to verify stories before they broadcast.

“The Commission calls on broadcasters to always ensure that when they use UGC and social media sources, they must ensure their veracity and authenticity.”

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