Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has sanctioned Arise Television, Channels Television and the African Independent Television (AIT) for their report on the violence that characterised the #EndSARS protest last week.
The Acting Director-General of the NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba, who handed down the sanctions in Abuja, said the affected media houses were liable to a fine of N2 million to N3 million.
Idachaba, while briefing journalists in Abuja, said the NBC was concerned about the professional misdemeanour of some broadcasting stations in the past couple of days.
Idachaba added that whereas it could be said that the Nigerian media, especially the broadcast media, discharged its role professionally and most patriotic in confronting the challenge of #COVID-19 crisis, the same cannot be said of the coverage of the #EndSARS campaign.
He further said monitoring reports available to the commission indicated that at the early stages of the conflict, the broadcast industry largely gave a fair and balanced coverage to the issues.
Idachaba however said the trend became completely reversed when violence, wonton destruction and looting were added to the dimensions.
Idachaba noted that Nigerians were at the stage of the nation’s history when broadcasters in the country had a crucial responsibility for responsive and professional broadcasting.
He stated that by picking unverified, unsubstantiated social media sources and repeating the narratives, broadcasters in the country have shown crass lack of professionalism and a disposition to be escalators of conflict and more seriously a threat to Nigeria.
“In line with the provisions of section 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which states that: “the Broadcaster shall be held liable for any breach of the Code emanation from the use of material from User Generated Sources (UGC),” the Commission has therefore sanctioned Arise TV, Channels TV and AIT in line with the provisions of the Broadcasting Code. This is to serve as deterrent to broadcasters who deliberately ignore to verify stories before they broadcast.
“The Commission calls on broadcasters to always ensure that when they use UGC and Social Media Sources, they must ensure their veracity and authenticity,” Idachaba said.
Earlier, Idachaba said perhaps, in the eagerness to break news and be pace setters, the affected stations engaged in the very unprofessional attitude of speculative and unverifiable broadcast.
“This is in spite of the following provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which provides as follows:
“5.6.1: In Contemporary times, the impact of modern technology has significantly enabled Citizen’s contribution to journalism, which are beneficial to broadcasting. In this genre of citizens reportage, deploys such facilities as “User Generated Content,” providing instantaneous eye-witness account of events. Such technological benefits place further demand on the broadcaster to be more cautious of its editorial responsibility.
“5.6.2: News materials sent in by public must be vetted by broadcaster who has editorial responsibility.
“5.6.3 The Broadcaster shall be mindful of materials that may embarrass individuals or organisations or cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the society, in the usage of UGC,” Idachaba stated.
Idachaba also said Channels Television, Arise TV and AIT especially, continued to transmit
footages obtained from unverified and unauthenticated social media sources.
“No doubt these pictures stimulated anger and heightened the violence that
was witnessed during the crisis.
“We believe that the whole country has now seen why the spurious and recklessness on the social media must not be patronised by the main stream traditional media. Broadcasters who therefore dogmatically patronise the social media must bury their heads in shame,” Idachaba also said.
The NBC further
condemned the assault and intimidation of media houses.
Idachaba said the burning of TVC in Lagos and the brief closure of Channels Television, Lagos, were all worrisome indicators of mob treat to the freedom of the press.
“No nation can grow when the citizens muzzle and intimidate its press,” Idachaba maintained.