Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved a review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws.
Mohammed said the approval was to reflect the upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
Mohammed made the disclosure while inaugurating a seven-member Committee on the Implementation of Reforms in the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The inauguration of the implementation committee followed the submission of a report by an earlier five-member committee put together by the Federal Government on a fact-finding mission and the presidential approval of its findings.
The review, according to the minister, also includes willful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station to attract suspension of license and Upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
“Highlights of the recommendations approved by Mr. President are as follows: Independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
“A review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect the following amendments; – Upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency – Wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station to attract suspension of license – Upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
“Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTv and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria
“Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC. At the moment, there are only about 200 Staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and television stations.
“Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC.
“Enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their compromise in the line of duty,” Mohammed said.
Earlier, Mohammed said the decision to reform the broadcast sector was sequel to deliberations at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of March 27, 2019, on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general elections.
Mohammed further said President Buhari directed him to put together, an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the Council.
Mohammed also said that following the presidential directive, he inaugurated the five-member committee on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019, to find out to what extent the NBC was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general elections.
Other terms of reference handed down to the five-member committee, according to Mohammed, were to recommend measures that could strengthen the NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.
“The committee submitted its report on April 24th 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded the report to Mr. President, who has since approved them,” Mohammed stated.
Under the Director of Monitoring, NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba as chairman, and Mr. Joe Mutah, Chief Press Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture as secretary, the implementation committee, has as its the terms of reference, to implement the recommendations of the committee on the NBC reforms as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amongst others, the committee is also to immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC Act by the National Assembly and to immediately assess and propose equipment, materials and training needed to make the NBC a modern and well-positioned regulator.