Lai Mohammed Orders NBC To Sanction Violators of Broadcast Code

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    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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