Sanction Violators of Broadcast Code, Lai Mohammed Directs NBC

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Alhaji Lai Mohammed
 By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has
directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction
broadcasting organizations that violate the nation’s Broadcast Code,
saying the serial violation of the code by many radio and television
stations constitute a threat to national peace, security and unity.

According to a statement signed by his SA, Segun Adeyemi, the Minister gave the directive while addressing participants at the DSO Stakeholders’ Retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Friday.

”As I have said on a number of occasions, this Administration will
neither stifle press freedom nor tamper with freedom of expression.
But it will also not condone a situation in which broadcast stations
will set the nation on fire by ignoring the minimum standard as
contained in the Broadcast Code.

”If we set the country on fire by our actions, none of us will escape
the consequences. For those who may
think this is far-fetched, let me remind them that a radio station,
Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), played a (catalytic)
role during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that left some 800,000 people
dead,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said the Broadcast Code was clear when it said in
Section 0.2.1: ”Broadcasting shall influence society positively,
setting the agenda for the social, cultural, economic, political and
technological development of a
nation, for the public good.”

He also quoted three other relevant Sections of the Code: Section
3.1.2 (Materials likely to incite or encourage to the
commission of a crime or lead to public disorder shall not be
broadcast); Section 3.9.1 (Language or scene likely to encourage or
incite to crime, or lead to disorder, shall not be broadcast) and
Section 0.2.3g (Broadcasting shall be mindful of the degree of harm
and offence likely to be caused by the inclusion of any material in
programming, in general or in specific terms).

”Unfortunately, many of our broadcasters today are wilfully flouting
these critical Sections of the Code by broadcasting inciting materials
and language that can encourage or incite crime or lead to disorder.
The situation has become worse in recent times, in the wake of the
Farmers/Herders’ clashes.

”The killings in Benue in the new year are unfortunate, condemnable
and unacceptable. But the coverage of the aftermath of the killings by
many broadcast stations has shown a flagrant disregard for the
Broadcast Code, lack of professionalism and outright irresponsibility.
Many broadcast stations are guilty of this,” the Minister said.

He added: ”For those who may want to misrepresent us, this is not a
call for censorship, but a call for responsibility and total adherence
to the Broadcast Code. Playing, over and over again, the footage of
dead bodies in the aftermath of any crisis is capable of inciting
public disorder. Rolling, time and time again, the footage of mass
burial of victims of any crisis is equally inciting. Offering your
platform to public commentators who use incendiary language or engage
in
ethnic-baiting is detrimental to national peace and unity.”

Alhaji Mohammed commended the stakeholders for the success recorded in
the Digital Switch Over (DSO) last year., saying it was a ”pleasant
irony” that a year that was marked with bickering ended with DSO
rollout in Kwara and Kaduna States within 48 hours.

He said the momentum must be maintained by making the year 2018 the
most successful yet in the country’s digitization process.

”This retreat is therefore highly commendable, as it provides the
stakeholders the opportunity to take a holistic look at the whole
process and come out with the way forward. I have no doubt that the
retreat, coming so early in the year, will have a positive impact on
the DSO process, and speed up our rollout in the new year,” the
Minister said.

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