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Radio station fined for airing materials capable of "inciting violence"

(MRA/IFEX) - On 27 April 2009, Nigeria's broadcast regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), fined private radio station Adaba FM 500,000 Naira (approx. US$3,350) for allegedly transmitting on 25 April "materials that were capable of inciting members of the public to violence and consequently leading to breakdown of law and order", while covering the re-run of the governorship elections in Ekiti State in the southwest.

Mr. Awwalu Salihu, NBC's head of public affairs, said in a statement that Adaba FM's broadcast of 9:30 a.m. (local time) of 25 April violated sections 3.1.2 and 1.4.4 of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, adding that the commission gave the station until 8 May to pay up or "face higher sanction".

The letter of sanction was reportedly handed over to the acting general manager of the station, Mr. Joseph Alake, in the afternoon of 27 April.

The commission stressed its "determination to ensure that broadcasting stations play their indispensable role according to the rules of the game to ensure fairness and peace in the nation's political process."

The NBC was not specific on what aspects of the station's programme breached the Broadcasting Code. As was the case on previous occasions when it sanctioned privately owned broadcasting stations, the NBC again did not follow the procedure specified in the Broadcasting Code which requires the commission to give a station an opportunity to defend itself before applying sanctions.

The NBC is viewed by many as lacking in independence as it is directly under the control of the minister of information and communications as well as the president. It has been repeatedly accused of being quick to muzzle privately owned broadcast stations with little or no justification while turning a blind eye when government-owned stations violate the provisions of the Broadcasting Code, particularly during election periods.

Adaba FM is a private station running on the frequency modulated wave band and is based in Akure, the Ondo State capital, in south-west Nigeria.

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