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Media Rights Agenda sues NBC over fines on TV stations

Media Rights Agenda sues NBC over fines on TV stations
November 09
21:57 2020

Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a non-governmental organisation, has filed a suit challenging the powers of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to impose fines on broadcasting stations.

On October 26, the NBC sanctioned the Channels Television, ARISE Television and Africa Independent Television (AIT) for “unprofessional coverage” of the #EndSARS protests.

The three stations were accused of airing “unverified images of alleged shooting.”

In the suit filed before a federal high court in Ibadan, Oyo state, Boluwatife Sanya, MRA counsel, asked the court to set aside the N3 million fine imposed on the television stations.

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MRA also prayed the court to issue a perpetual injunction restraining the “NBC, its officers, agents and/or representatives from imposing sanctions or fines or excessive, disproportionate, unlawful and unconstitutional restrictions” on television and radio stations in Nigeria.

MRA contended that the imposition of fines on the three stations “contravenes section 15.2.2 and other provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code relating to sanctions and fines as well as the doctrine of fair hearing as provided for in the constitution.”

The NGO is asking the court to declare that the act of sanctioning and imposing fines on the media houses purportedly in line with sections 5.6.3 and 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code “creates a chilling or stifling effect on freedom of expression and is likely to interfere with the right of MRA’s members  to freedom of expression, particularly their right to receive ideas and information without interference as guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter”.

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The applicant (MRA) also prayed the court for “a declaration that the NBC, not being a judicial body, lacks the power to impose fines on any broadcaster, including fines imposed on the three stations, and that the imposition of such fines is null and void.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing.

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