True to plans by the Kano State Government to regulate the broadcast media, the State Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, has announced the setting up of a 14 –member technical committee to sanitise operations of broadcast media in the state
The Committee has the Information Commissioner as Chairman and Professor Umar Pate as co-chairman.
While briefing newsmen on the outcome of the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting on March 6, 2020, Muhammad said the technical committee would, among other things, look into the issue of professional misconduct and abuse of privilege by some media organisations in the state.
At the media briefing, Muhammad said: “Kano State has 13 broadcast stations, which is the highest in northern Nigeria, mainly owned by individuals.
“That is why we set up a committee of professionals to monitor radio stations in the state in order to ensure that they adhere to broadcast code and also to sensitise them.
“As a government, we are not doing this to stop people from airing their views or stop the Freedom of Information (FOI). We are doing it to sanitise the sector for the overall good of the state.”
Other members of the Committee include the State Commissioners for Justice and Religious Affairs, Ibrahim Mukhtar; Dr. Muhammad Adam; Isma’ilNa’abba, Director-General, Kano State Censorship Board; representatives of the police; National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ); Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU); civil society organisations (CSOs), and office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), among others.
Garba Muhammad had announced in January 2020 that the Kano State Executive Council had given approval for the setting up of the technical committee to address issues of professional misconduct and alleged abuse of privilege by media organisations in the state.
He had also disclosed that the committee will be set up to, among other things, organise a stakeholders’ meeting comprising the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Information, proprietors of radio stations, security agencies, party chairmen, and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), to discuss their challenges and proffer solutions.
Not satisfied, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) on January 16, 2020, called on the Kano State Government to discontinue its move to establish the committee describing it as an unwarranted and politically motivated effort to restrict media freedom.
In a statement issued in Lagos, MRA’s Programme Director, Mr AyodeLonge, said the State Government’s initiative to regulate the conduct of the media and media professionals in the State violates regional and international norms and standards on media freedom and freedom of expression which are binding on Nigeria.
Mr. Longe argued that “since the Government is frequently at the receiving end of critical reports in the media, even if its intentions are sincere and genuine, there is a high degree of likelihood that it will also be looking for ways of either controlling such critical media or hitting back at journalists or media establishments which have carried critical or unfavourable reports about it.”
He said MRA is not convinced that the Government’s intentions are sincere or genuine, particularly in the light of the widespread perception in the State that the move is motivated by a desire to punish media organizations which, in keeping with the best traditions of media freedom, independence and professionalism, have sought to provide diverse and pluralistic media content by also reporting the perspectives and positions of political opposition and other critical voices in the State.
Calling on the Government to shelve its plans to set up a media regulatory body, MRA advised that where media organizations or media professionals can be shown to have breached established professional codes of ethics and standards for the media or to have violated applicable laws the Government and other stakeholders should have recourse to existing laws and mechanisms in seeking redress and by so doing, strengthen those processes.