Broadcast Regulation

Nigeria: Govt. Suspends Channels TV For "Breach Of Broadcast Code"!

Channels TV, the news and current affairs TV station vastly popular in Nigeria, has been suspended by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) - the country's broadcast regulator! In a letter from the Acting Director-General of the NBC, Professor Armstrong Idichaba, the regulator said the broadcast licence for Channels is suspended because one of its broadcast programmes breached the NBC broadcasting code.

The reference TV programme was the Channels TV's flagship 7 pm show in which the station interviewed a leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) allegedly without censorship.

However, Nigeria's Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the government and NBC to reverse the order, which SERAP has highlighted as illegal and unconstitutional. As an alternative form of punishment for breaching the broadcast code, SERAP has suggested the imposition of an N5million (US$ 12 168,09) penalty.

The Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the suspension as it stands, has no legal basis. Oluwadare has suggested that the government, together with NBC, reverse the suspension; otherwise, SERAP will pursue legal action against the suspension order.

Furthermore, Oluwadare maintained that the action taken demonstrates Nigeria's government stance to silence independent media. According to SERAP, the decision is against the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, which states that the government must respect and protect expression and media freedom.

SERAP has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address NBC regarding, what SERAP calls, intimidation and harassment of independent media houses and to abide by the Nigerian Constitution and the country's human rights obligations.  This included the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.

The SERAP Deputy Director emphasised the call to President Buhari to enforce the government's responsibility to ensure the protection of Nigerians' rights to freedom of expression and access to information.

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