The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has slammed a N3 million fine on three broadcast stations over their alleged roles in the escalation of violence across the nation.

The NBC accused the stations – Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV – of airing unverified images of the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in contravention of the broadcasting code.

The Acting Director General of the commission, Professor Armstrong Idachaba in a statement issued on Monday said the Commission was concerned about the professional misdemeanour of some broadcasting stations in the past couple of days.

He said: “Whereas it can be said that the Nigerian media especially the broadcast media discharged its role professionally and most patriotic in confronting the challenge of COVID-19 crisis, the same cannot be said of the coverage of the recent #EndSARS campaign.”

The NBC boss cited some of the Code allegedly breached by the stations to include “5.6.1: In contemporary times, the impact of modern technology has significantly enabled citizen’s contribution to journalism, which are beneficial to broadcasting. In this genre of citizens reportage, deploys such facilities as “User Generated Content” UGC, providing instantaneous eye-witness account of events. Such technological benefits place further demand on the broadcaster to be more cautious of its editorial responsibility.

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“5.6.2: News materials sent in by public must be vetted by a broadcaster who has editorial responsibility.

“5.6.3 The broadcaster shall be mindful of materials that may embarrass individuals or organisations or cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the Society, in the usage of UGC.”

Idachaba added that “Channels Television, Arise TV and AIT especially continued to transmit footages obtained from unverified and unauthenticated social media sources. No doubt these pictures stimulated anger and heightened the violence that was witnessed during the crisis.

“We are at the stage of our nation’s history when our broadcasters have a crucial responsibility for responsive and professional broadcasting. By picking unverified, unsubstantiated social media sources and repeating the narratives, our broadcasters have shown crass lack of professionalism and a disposition to be escalators of conflict and more seriously a threat to Nigeria.

“In line with the provisions of section 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which states that; ‘the broadcaster shall be held liable for any breach of the Code emanation from the use of material from User Generated Sources’. The Commission has therefore sanctioned Arise TV, Channels TV and AIT in line with the provisions of the Broadcasting Code. This is to serve as a deterrent to broadcasters who deliberately ignore to verify stories before they broadcast.

“The Commission calls on broadcasters to always ensure that when they use UGC and social media sources, they must ensure their veracity and authenticity.”

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