PARADIGM Initiative vehemently condemns the action of the National Broadcasting Commission in stifling free expression and the freedom of the press by revoking the license of broadcasting channel, AIT/RayPower for clearly undemocratic reasons.
The NBC claims that its monitoring reports reveal that the Station is inundated with the content of a divisive nature from bloggers and social media. But what the Commission fails to recognize and understand is that the Press has the freedom to report expressions by citizens, just the same way citizens have the freedom to express opinions – however controversial.
If a broadcasting channel raises an opinion expressed by a third party, reports on it and receives comments on same, such a broadcasting channel is well within its rights and duties. It is, therefore, unethical and clearly biased of the National Broadcasting Commission to revoke the license of AIT/RayPower on this ground.
The NBC states that it is disturbed with ‘the manner in which social media issues became part of the mainstream media unedited on AIT/RayPower…’ but the Commission should know that opinions of third parties cannot and should not be edited (at least in content) in reportage. The Commission’s concern is, therefore, antithetical to free speech.
In its most basic form, the freedom of expression and of the press in Nigeria allows for every person to be entitled to free expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Expressions such as ‘Nigeria irritates me’ or ‘Nigeria is cursed’ may not be the most pleasant or agreeable expressions. But they remain opinions made by people within their rights. And what is a Broadcasting entity if it cannot report opinions, activities, or expression of citizens?
Paradigm Initiative wishes to inform the NBC that revoking the license of one of the few private mainstream broadcasting channels, and for muddy, unfounded and undemocratic reasons, is highly suggestive of bias by the Regulator. We, therefore, recommend that the Shut Down Order against AIT/RayPower and the suspension of the licence of Daar Communications be cancelled and the licence restored.