The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has sanctioned Arise Television Station for airing ‘fake news’ about the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The television station is to pay the sum of N2,000,000.00 for violating the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
The sanction was contained in a letter dated 13 November 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 press statement purportedly signed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The commission noted that the infraction was allowed to happen despite its recent sensitization programme for all the broadcasters.
The station had used a statement purportedly signed by Barr. Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner that the APC presidential candidate was been investigated.
The nation’s electoral body, however, denied the statement describing it as fake news.
Earlier, Tinubu had asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction Arise News and Channels TV over what he described as fake reports on alleged drug trafficking involving him.
The NBC slammed the fine of N2,000,000.00 on the station in a letter addressed to the chief executive officer, Arise Global Media Limited, and signed by its director general, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah.
The letter by the commission titled: “Breach of The Nigeria Broadcasting Code: Sanction” stated, that “The National Broadcasting Commission has imposed a penalty of N2, 000,000.00 (Two Million Naira, Only) on Arise TV, being sanction for the violations of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
“On Saturday 12th November, 2022, the Commission monitored the use of a Press Release purportedly signed by Festus Okoye Esq, the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee of Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, by Arise TV.
“The said press release alleged that INEC is investigating the issue of forfeiture by a US court against the presidential candidate of the APC, with a view to prosecution.
The press release in reference has been tagged: ‘fake’ by INEC and the organisation has also issued a counter press release to refute the story.
“It would be recalled that the National Broadcasting Commission, between 19th and 26th of September, 2022, went round the country to sensitize broadcasters and remind them of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the Electoral Act as we count down to the 2023 General Elections.
The Commission also underscored the need for broadcasters to double-check the veracity of any information, especially, those gotten from the Social Media gotten from the Social Media (User Generated Content UGC) which is, specifically, affirmed by Section 5.6.5. of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
“Likewise, we draw attention to Section 5.0.1 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which provides that “News shall be presented as a truthful and accurate account of an event or phenomenon…
News requires the highest level of responsibility by practitioners in adhering to the most pristine of their professional ethics. These include truthfulness, accuracy, fairness, objectivity, impartiality…”
“Furthermore, Section 5.1.3 of the Code says, “Fake News Is Prohibited”.
“News is the most potent of all broadcasts and therefore, the editorial responsibility of the broadcaster is sacrosanct. Every news item must be verified.
“The commission, along with stakeholders, have been working towards a free and fair general elections and enjoins broadcasters to continue to perform their duties professionally, in order to bring about a successful democratic process.
“Nevertheless, the commission uses this opportunity to warn all broadcasters to adhere to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Regulations and other Extant Laws, as it will not hesitate to sanction any broadcaster that contravenes the above requirements.”
In a petition signed by the special adviser, Media, Communications and Public Affairs of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Alake, and addressed to the director-general of NBC, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, Tinubu, accused both television stations of breaching broadcast codes with their actions.
According to Tinubu, the purported drug trafficking case as reported and discussed on Arise News and Channels TV had already been cleared in a correspondence between then Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun and the US government.
He said the continued broadcast of a non-existing ‘indictment’ violated the NBC code.
Alake stated: “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 attaché.
“The Campaign Council was therefore surprised that certain media houses, such as ARISE News and Channels TV among others, went ahead to transmit and broadcast issues purportedly indicting our candidate in violation of section 3,3 I of the Code which says that:
“The broadcaster shall: (a) 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.
Tinubu further accused both stations of using the already cleared document in their interviews of Festus Keyamo (SAN) and spokesman of the opposition PDP respectively.
Both stations, the petition said, went further to broadcast a fake letter in circulation, purportedly issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission, stating that the electoral body was investigating Tinubu.
“This was also against the NBC code, which forbids broadcasting fake news in the words of Mr. Alake.
“Notwithstanding the broadcast of the falsehood peddled by opposition elements, ARISE TV and Channels TV went ahead to transmit and circulate a fake letter insinuating that the Independent National Electoral Commission 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 candidate listed other infractions against Arise TV which has been known to carry fake reports against Asiwaju Tinubu.
“Arise TV has admitted guilt to this in a broadcast few days ago. We make bold to say that in 2014 the AIT transmitted a TV documentary “The Lion of Bourdillon” to which the NBC sanctioned it and it apologized to the victim.
“However, only last week Chief Bode George, a chieftain of the PDP in an interview on Arise TV referred to materials from the documentary to vilify our presidential candidate in breach of the code and the apology granted the victim.
“These breaches attract a sanction of Class B and we implore the National Broadcasting Commission to invoke the aforementioned sections to penalize ARISE TV and Channels TV for breach of the Broadcast code. Section 5.3.3 of the code states that “The broadcaster shall (b) in using Political materials for news and current affairs programmes avoid hate speech, inflammatory, derogatory and divisive remarks or allusions’.”
The party said the events “vilified and denigrated” Asiwaju Tinubu as an indicted offender and law breaker in the US”.
In a bid to seek justice for the APC presidential candidate, the PCC asked the NBC to invoke the appropriate sanctions against the offending television stations.
The petition further stated: “Our presidential candidate was vilified and denigrated as an indicted offender and law breaker in the US court case by ARISE TV and Channels TV during their broadcasts in the last week, such as The Morning Show and Politics Today respectively.
“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