Final Statement and Plan of Action
The World Bank Institute (WBI) in Washington D.C., in
partnership with Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos held a three-day
workshop in Lagos between October 18 and 20, 2005 to examine “Media
Institutions and Capacity in Nigeria”. The workshop brought together
about 50 media professionals and experts, including editors, managers and
journalists, to assess the state of Nigeria’s mass media industry – its
strengths, weaknesses and the pressures that confront it and to propose
strategies to create strong, effective and independent media institutions.
The workshop participants discussed issues relating to
media practice and capacity in Nigeria, particularly the role of media in
governance and development, key elements of effective media oversight such
as the enabling regulatory and institutional environment, independence,
quality and reach of the media, licensing, broadcasting regulation,
freedom of expression regulations, the role of the state media, and the
application of new media technologies.
The workshop participants agree to and hereby adopt this
Final Statement and Plan of Action.
Participants observed that various stakeholders in the
media industry have key roles to play in the emergence of strong,
effective and independent media in Nigeria and hereby call on them as
Federal and State Governments:
legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks for media practice in
Nigeria inhibit media freedom and freedom of expression and should be
reviewed. This should include the repeal of repressive laws which have
been carried over from the colonial and military eras, the reform of
regulatory institutions established under those laws, and the
entrenchment of a philosophy which recognizes that a free, independent
and professional media is an essential element of a democratic society.
practice where the power to issue broadcast licenses is vested in the
President of Nigeria exposes the process to the possibility of political
manipulation and is unhealthy for the independence and effective running
of the broadcast sector. Accordingly, the power to issue or revoke
broadcast licenses should be vested exclusively in an independent
regulator, ideally in a reformed National Broadcasting Commission.
mode of regulation of the broadcast sector, which is discriminatory, as
between state-owned broadcast media and privately owned broadcasting
stations, particularly in license fees and network operations, is
inequitable and unjustifiable. The National Broadcasting Commission
should take urgent steps to level the playing field.
In order to
ensure the independence of the media, all state-owned media outlets,
whether owned by Federal or State Governments, should be transformed
into genuine public service media with their independence from
government, commercial or partisan interests guaranteed by law and in
practitioners require access to information to be able to effectively
discharge the responsibility imposed on them by Section 22 of the 1999
Constitution to uphold the accountability of the Government to the
people. However, various legal provisions and institutional practices
of public bodies impede access to information for media practitioners
and other citizens alike. Accordingly, the Federal Government,
particularly the National Assembly and the President, should immediately
pass into law the Freedom of Information Bill, which has been pending
before the Legislature since 1999.
economic climate in the country has affected the purchasing power of
most Nigerians and, therefore, their ability to purchase newspapers and
access other media products. The Government should adopt policy
measures which will improve the economic circumstances and purchasing
power of Nigerians and consequently the fortunes of the media.
the high cost of newspapers and other media products, which has made
them inaccessible to a majority of Nigerians, has largely been due to
high operational and production costs arising from the Government’s
failure to provide the basic infrastructure that support the activities
of the media industry as well as the high tariffs charged on imports of
media materials and consumables. The government should take urgent
steps to ensure that basic infrastructural needs of the country,
particularly steady power supply, are guaranteed. It should also grant
waivers on tariffs or tax relief for the importation of media materials
and equipment in accordance with the spirit of UNESCO’s Florence
Treaty – the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Materials.
Professional Bodies in the Media (NUJ, NGE, NPAN,
credibility and effectiveness of the media has been gravely undermined
by widespread corruption in the media. Media practitioners and
associations should commit themselves to reversing this unsavoury
situation, including by developing effective sanctions mechanisms [e.g.
an Ombudsman] for practitioners who violate the code of ethics for
Media NGOs and Other Civil Society Organizations:
Non-governmental organizations working in the area of media development,
media assistance or media freedom, along with other human rights civil
society organizations, should continue to monitor attacks on media
freedom and freedom of expression and provide support and assistance to
media practitioners and organizations whenever they come under attack.
such as Media Rights Agenda (MRA), the International Press Centre (IPC)
and the Centre for Free Speech (CFS) should form partnerships [through
coalitions] with professional associations within the media and
individual media professionals to identify and collate all remaining
laws and regulations which inhibit media freedom or constitute obstacles
to independent journalism practice, and work through the appropriate
democratic institutions to redress the situation.
Journalism Training Institutions:
standard of journalism and mass communication education is a major
factor responsible for the poor quality of reporting in the media.
Unlike other professional bodies such as those of the medical, legal,
accounting, and engineering professions, media regulatory bodies and
professionals are not actively involved in the assessment and
determination of facilities and curriculums of journalism education.
professionals, associations, unions and NGOs should as a matter of
urgency work out the modalities for intervention in journalism education
with a view to improving the standard of training and closing the gap
between the output from training institutions and the personnel needs of
the media sector.
International Development Partners:
development partners, including bilateral and multilateral donor
agencies, should support advocacy efforts to reform the legal and
regulatory framework for the media by encouraging the Federal
Government, at every opportunity, to put in place the appropriate
development partners, including bilateral and multilateral donor
agencies, should provide capacity-building assistance to the media in
Nigeria to help them achieve independence and sustainability. This
could also include access to capital, possibly in the form of soft
loans, as the existence of many media organizations is threatened by
lack of capital.
Adopted in Lagos
October 20, 2005.