- The NBC on Thursday, June 6, announced the suspension of the licences of the AIT and Ray Power FM belonging to the Daar Communications Limited
- The action of the NBC generated huge reactions across the country
- Media stakeholders in the country have intervened to save the day
Following the suspension of the broadcast license of DAAR Communications Plc., owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power FM by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), media stakeholders have intervened to prevent the issue from escalating.
The stakeholders includes; the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Guild of Editors ( NGE) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
A meeting of all parties to resolve the issues was convened on Sunday, June, 9, by elders and patrons of Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), the umbrella body for all the stakeholders.
Attendees at the meeting include Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu, the director-general off the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, founder and chairman Emeritus, DAAR Communications Plc.
Others include Uncle Sam Amuka, Publisher, Vanguard Group; Mallam Ismaila Isa, Patron NPAN and Nduka Obaigbena, President NPAN and President NPO.
At the meeting the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) restated their commitments to freedom of expression and the constitutionally guaranteed role of the media under sections 22 and 39 to hold governments accountable.
The NBC also raised concerns about the non adherence of the DAAR Communications group (AIT/Ray Power) to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, despite repeat interactions on same.
The NBC then cited lack of editorial balance by DAAR Communications as well as the lingering issue of non-payment of national network license fees by DAAR Communications.
DAAR Communications Plc. defended it's position saying it gives it's team freedom to make editorial commentary on issues of the day relying on Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas without interference.
DAAR stated it had made some payments on account to the NBC but acknowledged that there were some defaults in the payments plan they submitted to the NBC, and explained that the defaults were due to decisions jointly reached at BON meetings by all broadcasters to engage and renegotiate the cost of license fees with NBC in view of the current difficult economic realities affecting the industry.
But, the NBC insists that license fees are statutory and thus non - negotiable.
After an exhaustive dialogue, all parties RESOLVED as follows:
1. DAAR Communications Plc. will work out a new realistic payment plan with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and ensure prompt payments in accordance with the new plan.
2. DAAR Communications Plc. will appoint an Ombudsman to ensure balance in its news coverage especially political commentary; it will also take full editorial responsibility for the use of content sourced from social media outlets;
3. The NBC will immediately lift the suspension of the broadcast license of DAAR Communications Plc;
4. DAAR Communications Plc. will withdraw its case in court, against the NBC and;
5. All parties will take necessary steps to work together to build confidence in the public interest.
Dokpesi, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, had earlier alleged that his affiliation with the opposition PDP is the reason for the alleged current bias being meted to his company.
The media mogul had also led a protest to the National Assembly over the NBC hammer on his companies.
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