The Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has suspended the license of Daar Communications Plc, promoter of Africa Independent Television (AIT), Ray Power until further notice.
The Director-General of NBC, Modibbo Kawu announced the shut down on Thursday evening.
According to the source, Kawu said the action was taken for failure of the broadcasting station to abide by the broadcasting code.
NBC had threatened to sanction Daar Communications Group over the use of social media comments in one of its programmes, Kakaaki, and ‘unprofessional’ conducts by the media house.
The NBC, Nigeria’s broadcast regulatory commission, had also requested the media house to explain why it should not be sanctioned for broadcasting ‘inciting’ and ‘unfair’ contents.
But in his reaction, the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, owner of RayPower FM, African Independent Television (AIT) and FAAJI FM, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi protested against threat, saying that it is a plot by the Government of the day to gag the media and suppress free speech.
Dokposi who led a protest March in Abuja instead that the broadcasting stations have not violated any code of broadcasting as alleged by the NBC.
”The NBC and the government in power are not comfortable with the broadcast industry because of its courageous and dogged stance in informing Nigerians on happenings in the country.
“We are in a Democracy and must all rise to defend Nigeria from anti-democratic forces,” he added.
In what looks like a swift reaction to the protest, the Commission announced the indefinite suspension.
Besides, the commission also note that part of the sins of Dar Communication was its failure to be up to date with its due.
This Kawu said must be paid before any consideration for pardon beside other laid down rules that must be met.
The NBC boss also denied any partisan position in the shutdown saying that the broadcasting station on many occasions fell shut of the broadcasting code .
He said ” Today the 6th of June, 2019, AIT/Rapower embarked on use of inflammatory, divisive, inciting broadcasts, and media propaganda against the government and, the NBC for performing its statutory functions of regulating the broadcast industry in Nigeria.
“Consequently, after several meetings with management of DaarCommunications Plc and many letters of warning. The NBC, today 6th June, 2019 took a decision to suspend the licence of Daar Communications Plc for failure to abide by the Commission’s directives, the provisions of the NBC Act Cap N11
“The SHUT DOWN order is until further notice.”
He said the commission drew its powers to suspend the broadcast station from its establishing Act.
“This decision is based on the provisions of Section 10 of the Third Schedule of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which states as follows:
“Where in the opinion of the Commission the station has been used in a manner detrimental to national interest.
“Where there is wilful or repeated failure to operate substantially as set forth in the licence
“Where there is wilful or repeated violation or wilful or repeated failure to observe any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission authorised by this Act or by a treaty ratified by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Where there is violation of or failure to observe any cease and desist order issued by the Commission;
“Where a provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code has been seriously breached.”
Given background to the shutdown, Kawu who chronicled the many offenses of the broadcasting station said, “Following monitoring reports and complaints from concerned Nigerians about the broadcast contents of Daar Communications Plc’s AIT/Raypower broadcast stations, the NBC have over the last 2 years summoned on several occasions management of the company to address issues regarding the operations of AIT/Raypower with the company, particularly, Political Platform and Kakaaki aired on AIT.
“In one of our meetings, held on 2nd June, 2017, the Commission expressed its disappointment with the way and manner Hate Speech, divisive and inciting comments are applied in discussion of national issues in breach of the provisions of the NBC Act and Broadcast Code.
“Again, on 15th August, 2017, it became imperative to invite the company for yet another meeting on almost same issues. Furthermore, while addressing another meeting on 7thFebruary, 2018 we highlighted issues of concern to the Commission which indicated that the company had been breaching the provisions of Sections 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 of the broadcast Code. The company’s delegates in their response promised to abate the breaches and comply with the law.
“However, on October 18, 2018, the Commission was disturbed with the manner in which social media issues became part of the mainstream media unedited on AIT/Raypower, and was constrained to issue a generic letter to all broadcast stations on the need to exercise caution in the use of user generated content from the social media knowing how volatile and misleading the social media has become. The management of Daar Communication Plc thereafter took to the social media to display our official correspondences.
“Recently, the Commission’s monitoring reports on AIT/Raypower indicate the use of divisive comments accredited to the segment of “Kakaaki”, tagged, “Kakaaki Social”, where inciting comments like, “Nigeria is cursed, we declare independent state of Niger Delta”, “Nigeria irritates me”, “this country is gradually Islamizing” and other similar slogans are used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast Code. We were therefore constrained to issue Daar Communication letters of warning dated May 27th, 2019.
“We also observed from monitoring reports that a documentary on the Presidential Election Tribunal, a pending election petition matter aired on AIT on Wednesday and Thursday, 22ndand 23rd May, 2019 without regard to the provisions of the Broadcast Code. The Commission, in line with its regulatory powers again cautioned AIT in another letter also dated 27thMay, 2019.
“However, instead of making amends, the management of Daar Communications Plc resorted to the use of media propaganda against the regulator. Even the letters from the NBC were posted on social media platforms.”
Needless to state that Daar Communications have over the years turned themselves into a bad example of how a professional broadcast outfit should not be run.
In their relationship with the NBC, Daar Communications carry on, as if it is beyond the regulatory direction of the Commission. They don’t pay their license fees as and when due.
Its broadcast is patently partisan and one-sided and deliberately inciting and heating the polity. The management of the Company has created the habit of using the channel to fight its personal battles contrary to the statutory requirements of the law.
More updates later…