The National Broadcasting Commission says Channels Television has apologised over its alleged infraction of the broadcasting code.
The Commission's Director of Public Affairs, Franca Aiyetan, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.
Aiyetan explained that the commission’s letter to the TV station was a regulatory instrument to check the excesses of the station.
She explained that the intent of the letter was neither to close down nor sanction the station, rather it was meant to draw the station’s attention to its breach of the broadcasting code, adding that “the station has accordingly apologised’’.
According to her, the letter is asking Channels TV to explain why it gave credence to an organisation that had been proscribed by the Nigerian government.
“It was actually not for public consumption; it was not a press release. It was a regulatory instrument to check the excesses of the station.
“It is a station that won an award but we say in this particular situation, you did not handle it professionally.
“It is possible to bridge the public peace and that was what the letter conveyed to Channels TV, to which the TV station has responded, saying we apologise, we did wrong.
“When the media started asking me about Channels TV, I had to go and find out what letter we had issued out because if it is a press release or something that is for public consumption it will come to the Public Affairs Department of NBC.
“And I will be able to communicate to the media about it but this letter that went to Channels TV is our way of regulating the broadcasting industry.
“It is called a bridge letter to the station to say in this particular programme you did not act professionally; you did not do it in line with the provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”
The director further explained that the particular programme in reference was an interview granted to someone representing an organisation that had been proscribed by the Nigerian government.
The spokesperson for the Indigenous People of Biafra, Emma Powerful, had featured on a programme on the station, leading to the sanction.
She said in the exercise of its power as the regulatory body, NBC wrote a letter asking Channels TV to explain why it gave credence to the spokesman for the proscribed organisation.
“The spokesman made lots of allusions that were not true, that are inciting and inimical to the peace of the society that could cause unrest.
“The NBC now said because of that this bridge attracts a shutdown or a fine of N5 million, but the pay line was that they were advised to discontinue the programme.
“Because when a station interviews live, they keep repeating it for maybe 24 hours before that kind of news will be dropped.
“And when I followed up on Monday, April 26, I discovered that the monitoring department that had written the letter had also received an apology letter from the Channels TV to say okay, we have received your letter and see where we went wrong, we are sorry.
“So, it is now left for NBC to say this station has responded or reacted this way. The letter was neither meant to shut down the station nor sanction it. Rather, it is drawing their attention to what they have done.”
Aiyetan said that the station was also free to write NBC back to say “we stand on what we have done because in our own professional analysis of what we have done, we think we are right.’’
“Maybe NBC misinterpreted our intention. And when we have a situation like that, we invite the station to sit down on a dialogue table and understand where they are coming from.
“And then we will also explain to say this is what you intend to do but for those receiving the signals, this is what it connotes, this is what the gravity of what you have done to the country.”
According to her, when a particular programme in a bid to pursue a particular trending issue begins to threaten the security and peace of the nation, then you check yourself.
“Because broadcasting is not self-serving; it is for the society. So, everything you do must be to the common good of the people and it must also hold the people accountable.”
Many Nigerians and groups have criticised the NBC for the action, describing it as draconian and an attempt to gag the media.