Procedure for complaining to National Broadcasting Commission

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is Nigeria’s broadcast regulator. The Commission was set up on August 24, 1992 by Decree 38 of 1992 later amended as an Act of the National assembly by Act 55 of 1999 and now known as National Broadcasting Commission Laws of the Federation 2004, CAP N11. It was established to among other responsibilities, regulate and control the broadcasting industry in Nigeria. The Commission is expected to ensure sanity in the country’s broadcast media landscape.

The NBC Code already has the 6th edition which was published in 2019. The Code represents the minimum standard of broadcasting in Nigeria. The Code was published to provide regulations for broadcasters and to ensure that broadcasting played a pivotal role in the social, cultural, technological, economic, and political lives of Nigerians. The Code also establishes codes of practice relating to content acquisition, sharing of content rights for rebroadcasting and technical standards for media services; and for the regulation standards of fair market.

One way the NBC can effectively carry out its regulatory function is through complaints lodged against broadcast stations by members of the public. If members of the public know how to report broadcast stations to the NBC many people probably wouldn’t mind submitting complaints to the Commission against erring broadcast stations at least to save the society from unscrupulous broadcast practices or careless stations. This article is packaged to show you how you can easily report erring broadcasting media organizations to the NBC so that appropriate penalties would be served against such stations if they are found guilty after investigations.

The Public Has Right to Complain

Members of the public have the right to report any broadcast station in Nigeria to the NBC especially regarding the broadcast content of such station. The NBC has made it easy for members of the public to exercise their right to complain in furtherance of the public’s Right to Quality Broadcasting, which the Commission was set up to guarantee.

If you are reporting any station to the NBC you have to note that confidentiality is not absolute. All complaints decided by the Commission may be made publicly available including the name of the complainant. This could change where a complainant has valid concerns relating to privacy issues in making a complaint. In such a case, the Commission may in its absolute discretion consider requests from the complainant for anonymity/confidentiality. So you should make up your mind before you start the process in case the issue is eventually made publicly available according to the NBC policy.

Which station you can complain about

The NBC regulates the broadcasting industry in the country so stations operating in this industry in any form are expected to stick to the NBC code. You can complain about programmes on commercial free-to-air TV, commercial radio, subscription TV or radio, community TV or radio, web radio and TV.

What to Complain About

Your eyes should be on radio, television and on-demand services (such as iROKO tv, Ibaka tv, Arewa 24). Whatever you observe broadcast stations and on-demand service providers are doing wrong you can report to the NBC. You can complain about a programme you saw or listened to, a programme you were part of but you think you were wrongly represented or something like that, an advert you saw, a radio or television station not keeping to NBC licensing rules, something you saw on Video on demand service, or something that has to do with subtitling or audio description.

The issues you can complain about may cover topics such as accuracy and neutrality in news, disclosing any commercial arrangements in factual programmes, distressing or distasteful content, and issues with classification of programmes, among others. You can read the NBC code to be guided while writing your petition to be sure that what the station did for which you are complaining is actually against the Commission’s code.

NBC’s Power to Act Based on Complaints

The NBC has the legal backing to respond to complaints by members of the public. The Commission’s website states as follows: As provided in section 2.1(d), (g), (h), (i), (l) of the NBC Act and section 13.0 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, the Commission is mandated to receive and enquire into any complaint; and where necessary arbitrate or impose sanctions for any non-compliance or non-adherence to the provisions of the Act, the Code or other regulations by the Commission, in respect of a station’s general conduct, or the content of broadcast materials, or the terms, conditions and obligations of any broadcast license.

It is against this backdrop that members of the public who are offended by the content of a broadcast, or the behaviour of a broadcast station are encouraged by the Commission to complain to the Director General, over any issue regarding broadcast content of stations in Nigeria.

How to Complain

Here’s the procedure for presenting a complaint against a broadcast station to the NBC as contained in the Commission’s website;

The Name of the Station;

The Title of the Programme;

The Date and Time of the broadcast;

The Essence of the complaint or observation; and

The Name, Address and Signature of the Complainant.

In summary, when you complain, you should clearly identify what you are complaining about and why; provide details such as the date, time and programme name; include your name and contact details; and keep a record of the complaint and when you send it. Your petition is expected to contain these facts which will make it possible for the Commission to thoroughly investigate the matter before taking action. The complaint can be submitted online or offline. Such complaints should be addressed to:

The Director General,

National Broadcasting Commission,

No 20, Ibrahim Taiwo Street,

Asokoro, Abuja,

P. O. Box 5747, Garki, Abuja

Or email it to: info@nbc.gov.ng.

Another very easy way to lodge complaints is through the NBC’s website. The Commission has made it even easier to complain through this website by providing an easy-to-fill form which has a feedback system to keep the complainant abreast of the progress of the complaint within the Commission. So you don’t need to write and post a letter via surface or e-mail. Just fill out a form and track the progress of your complaint. That’s all.

Finally!

It is the duty of every viewer to join forces with the NBC in ensuring sanity in Nigeria’s broadcast industry. You have the opportunity to report any broadcast station you think has crossed the red line in terms of its content. Just make sure you provide the right facts for the NBC to do a thorough investigation and sanction the station involved. The NBC should also be seen to be carrying out its watchdog role in Nigeria’s broadcast media landscape. If stations that have erred are seen to be punished for that, the public will definitely have more confidence in the NBC and put in more effort in monitoring the content of broadcasting stations in the country.

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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