Daar Communications PLC has urged National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to reconsider the sanction on the company, saying it has not violated any broadcasting code to deserve sanctions.
Managing Director of the broadcasting organisation, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower FM, Mr Tony Akiotu, made the call at a news conference on Wednesday in Abuja.
Akiotu said that the organisation on July 27, received a letter from the NBC stating that in line with its statutory mandate, the commission carried out random spectrum scan on the FM band in Abuja on July 11.
He said that, according to the commission, the scan indicated that RayPower FM, Abuja, transmitting on 100.5MHz, occupied 100.3 MHz-100.6 MHz, indicating a 300-KHz band occupancy “which exceeded the 150KNz band occupancy limit allowed for FM Radio Stations’’.
Akiotu, however, said that the commission did not consider a letter for transmission boundary of 100.410 MHz to 100.59MHz and an operation frequency of 100.5MHz issued to the organisation on Feb. 10, 1999.
“Without any prior correspondence on this same subject matter, surprisingly from the blues, in the earlier letter under reference, the commission in its own wisdom asserted a case of breach against us with a fine of N100 million.
“It further threatens that the commission would not hesitate to apply higher sanctions, including revocation of licence and shutting down of the broadcast station, if the breaches persist”.
He added that on July 27, Daar Communications also received another letter stating that “NBC has observed with dismay the persistent and flagrant infringement on the provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code on your programme; Political Platform”.
Akiotu stated that severally, the company was invited to the commission to either drop some presenters or decimate/tone down the vibrancy of the programme or navigate the discourse to support the government.
“Succinctly put, we have been intimidated, threatened and every attempt made to muzzle and stifle our constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression”.
He said that though Daar Communications considered all intent and purposes of the sanctions as unjust, unfair and assault on it, as a corporate citizen and licensee, it had paid the fines of N500,000 and N10 million respectively.
“We request that after due diligence by the appropriate officers of the commission and the institution of the state, it will eventually be discovered that we were indeed unjustly fined.
“And, the most honourable thing is to appropriately effect the necessary refund and restitution.’’
The managing director also expressed worry over the closure of the company’s Yola station by the NBC.
He added that its installed equipment in Owerri, Umuahia and Enugu had been vandalised and carted away by unknown persons due to the refusal of NBC to inspect and allow it to commence transmission at the stations.
He also said that the 2016-2021 licence fees were another area of concern to the company.
According to Akiotu, in view of the tight economic situation in the country, the organisation made an offer to pay the fees in monthly instalments based on the 2010/2015 rates, but was rejected by NBC.
“We are bold to state that it is not only Daar Communications PLC that allegedly owes the NBC licence fees for the period of 2016/2021.
“Therefore, it is indeed blackmail and name-calling in a bid to embarrass, discredit and hang the station.’’
He appealed to the commission to let Daar Communication be, saying that the organisation was determined to continue to serve the people of Nigeria professionally, responsibly and diligently.
“As an organisation, we do not bear any hatred for any government nor are we affiliated with, or an appendage of any institution, political interest or group of persons.
“Our loyalty is to the great people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in particular, and humanity in general.
“We are forever poised to discharge and fulfil our obligation to the country as enshrined in section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’