The Federal Government says the sanctions imposed on some broadcast media stations in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests were justified and that the affected stations already paid their fines.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Thursday in Abuja at a media briefing on the #EndSARS protest and its aftermaths.
Mohammed said that two of stations paid their fines in full, while the third paid a part of the fine, with an appeal for time to pay the balance.
The Minister who stressed that the fines imposed on the stations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) were not only justified, but that the NBC was indeed lenient said, “In the aftermath of the EndSARS crisis, the NBC fined three broadcast stations for using unverified and dangerous information from the social media.”
And continuing he said, “Commentators, many of whom didn’t even know why the NBC imposed the fine, rushed to allege an attempt to stifle free speech. Unknown to them, the stations themselves knew that they breached the Broadcast Code.”
“It is sad to see the traditional media jettisoning the age-long gate-keeping process and instead rushing to rely on the free-wheeling social media, devoid of any gatekeeping, for news,’’ he snapped.
The minister also said it was imperative for the traditional media to authenticate information from the social media or from any source, for that matter, before publishing or broadcasting same.
He condemned the emerging trend in which traditional media freely used materials from social media sources without taking the pains to verify their authenticity.
“This is a dangerous trend that must be curbed, in the interest of media practitioners themselves, the profession and indeed the country,’’ he said.
Mohammed said if the NBC had wielded the big stick during the protest, some broadcast media organisations would have faced more severe sanctions than mere fines.
The NBC had fined Channels Television, AIT and Arise TV N3 million each on Oct. 26 over their unprofessional coverage of the #EndSARS protest and the crises that followed it.