Court nullifies NBC powers to impose fines on broadcasters

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, nullified the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, NBC, authorising National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to impose fines on broadcast stations for alleged breaches of the code.

The court gave the judgment in a suit by Media Rights Agenda, MRA, against the NBC following the commission’s imposition of fines of N5 million each on a television station and three pay TV platforms in 2022, for allegedly undermining Nigeria’s national security by broadcasting documentaries on banditry in Nigeria.

Trial judge Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia held that the NBC not being a court of law, acted above its powers by imposing such fines.

The judge commended MRA for its legal challenge of the NBC’s action and issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the vommission or anyone acting on its behalf from further imposing any fine on any media platform or broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offence committed under the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia set aside the fines imposed by the NBC on August 3, 2022, on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV, TelCom Satellite Limited, TSTV, Trust-TV Network Limited and NTA Startimes Limited for broadcasting a documentary about the state of banditry and security in Zamfara State, saying the regulator’s action was wrong and unjustifiable in a democratic society.

Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Mr. Uche Amulu, filed the suit on behalf of MRA asking the court to hold, among other things, the NBC’s action of imposing a fine on each of the media platforms and the station for broadcasting a documentary about the state of banditry and security in Zamfara State was unlawful and unconstitutional and has a chilling effect on the freedom of media to impart information and ideas.

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