With NPO’s Intervention, NBC, DAAR Resolve Dispute

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• Regulator to lift suspension of licence
• AIT/Raypower to withdraw suit

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Major stakeholders in the media industry have brokered a truce between the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and DAAR Communications Plc., owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM over the suspension of the operating licence of the media group.

At a meeting held on Sunday night in Abuja, the stakeholders resolved that NBC, which last week suspended the operating licence of the organisation, and DAAR Communications, which approached a court for refuge, should sheathe their swords.

The regulatory agency had complained that the media group’s licence had to be suspended because of incessant infractions of the broadcasting code, saying several efforts to get the company to comply had failed.

The regulator also complained that the company was in default of payment of its licence fees.

Although DAAR responded with a law suit, which brought it temporary relief, stakeholders in the industry felt this was not the way to go, opting to bring both parties to the table on Sunday night.

The meeting, midwifed by the Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), was attended by representatives of the NBC, DAAR Communication, Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Elders and patrons of NPO, Mallam Isa Funtua and Mr. Sam Amuka-Pemu, the Publisher of the Vanguard Group, hosted the meeting.

At the end of discussions, all the issues raised by both DAAR Communications and NBC were resolved in the national interest, a statement by the Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, THISDAY/ARISE Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, who also doubles as President of NPAN said.

The statement added that NBC undertook to lift the suspension of the operating licence of DAAR Communications, while the company would in turn withdraw its law suit in addition to increasing its level of compliance with the broadcasting code.

It stated: “DAAR Communications Plc. will work out a new realistic payment plan with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and ensure prompt payments in accordance with the new plan;

“DAAR Communications Plc will appoint an ombudsman to ensure balance in its news coverage, especially political commentary; it will also take full editorial responsibility for the use of content sourced from social media outlets;

“Following this NPO statement, the NBC will immediately lift the suspension of the broadcast licence of DAAR Communications Plc;

“DAAR Communications Plc. will withdraw its case in court, against the NBC; and

“All parties will take necessary steps to work together to build confidence in the public interest.”

Among other personalities who attended the meeting are the Director General, NBC, Malam Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu; Chairman Emeritus, DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Chairman of the Board, Mr. Raymond Dokpesi (Jnr.); the Group Managing Director, Mr. Tony Akiotu; Managing Director, AIT, Mrs. Tosin Dokpesi; and the Company Secretary, Mr. Donatus Anopuo.

The statement explained that the NBC restated its commitment to freedom of expression and the constitutionally guaranteed role of the media, under sections 22 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, to hold governments accountable, pointing out that Section 22 specifically provides: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media are to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in the 1999 Constitution and ensure the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”

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