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Court orders AIT, others to pay outstanding fees owed FG

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered DAAR Communications Plc, owners of AIT, RayPower FM, and others to urgently come up with “a concrete and realistic proposal and ensure the prompt payment of outstanding licence renewal fees for its National Network Broadcast licence (Radio/TV).”

The court also ordered it to “take necessary internal steps to ensure balance in its news coverage, especially political commentary on the Plaintiffs stations across the country.

DAAR Communications, the court said, “shall ensure that all programmes transmitted on its TV/Radio stations across the country comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)Act, Cap. NH, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code as may be in force or/and as amended from time to time.

Further, DAAR Communications is to, henceforth, “take full editorial responsibility for the use of content sourced from social media and all/any other outlets.

Justice Inyang Ekwo extracted these and others from the terms of settlement entered into by DAAR Communications and the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) as condition for the resolution of the dispute between both institutions, which resulted in the recent indefinite suspension of DAAR’s licence by the NBC.

The NBC, through its Director-General, Modibbo Kawu, had on June 6, 2019 announced the indefinite suspension of DAAR’s operating licence, a decision the broadcasting firm challenged by instituting a suit before the court.

The NBC had claimed that DAAR’s broadcasting stations breached existing broadcast codes and defaulted in the payment of their licence renewal fees. The stations were also accused of airing a presidential election documentary while the matter was still before a tribunal, among others.

Upon an ex-parte application by DAAR Communications, Justice Ekwo, on June 7, 2019s parties to maintain status quo as of May 30, 2019, pending the determination of an application for interlocutory injunction against NBC and other defendants in the case it filed.

The judge adjourned to a further date for the hearing of the plaintiff’s application for interlocutory injunction. On the last hearing date, the plaintiff informed the court about efforts to settle out of court, following which the court adjourned to June 26, 2019 for report of settlement.

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