Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has fined Multichoice Nigeria Ltd, part of a South African pay-TV group, and others 5 million naira ($12 000) each for airing a BBC report that it said “glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security.”
The regulator said in a statement that the outlets had until August 30 to pay of which failure to pay would lead to the imposition of a higher penalty.
The NBC also fined local channel Trust TV, part of the group that owns the prominent Daily Trust newspaper, for its own report on banditry.
“The Commission wishes to seize this opportunity to advise broadcasters to be circumspect and deliberate in the choice and carriage of contents deleterious to Nigeria’s national security,” NBC said in a statement.
The Daily Trust quoted its management as saying, “We wish to state unequivocally that as a television station, we believe we were acting in the public interest by shedding light on the thorny issue of banditry.”
At the time of going to press, there were no comments yet from both the BBC and Multichoice Nigeria.
Armed criminals, known locally as bandits, have kidnapped thousands of Nigerians over the past two years.
Free speech and democracy activists in Africa’s most populous country have raised the alarm over what they say are erosions to freedom of expression in recent years, including last year’s ban on social media platform Twitter.