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FG to strengthen NBC, punish hate broadcasts

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The federal government has announced plans to take the necessary measures for the amendment of the Act establishing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to align the regulator with the current global realities in the broadcasting industry.

The announcement was made by the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday, November 19 when he received the report of the NBC reforms implementation committee from its chairman, Professor Armstrong Idachaba.

Alhaji Mohammed said there is a need to re-evaluate the applicability of some of NBC’s laws to meet modern challenges.

He also said the ministry would present a bill to the Federal Executive Council and work with the legislative arm of government to make it a reality.

“The bill will address the existing lacuna in the areas of the regulation of the internet, the ongoing Digital Switch Over, Digital Access Fee, and insulation of the regulator from partisan politics,” the minister told members of the committee which includes the highly respected Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa.

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Alhaji Mohammed said in the meantime, the NBC has been directed to immediately come up with regulations for the broadcast of content on the internet and the web, noting, however, that the regulations must not in any way gag the press or hinder their universal role of providing valuable information to the citizenry.

He also said that in line with a presidential approval, the commission has been mandated to amend the broadcasting code to reflect the upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000.

He said the breaches are related to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency while willful repeat of infractions on three occasions, after levying fine on a station, will attract suspension of license.

The minister also said the NBC should immediately upgrade the breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.

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