The Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba has advised broadcasters to set the right tone for coverage of the conduct of elections in Edo state.
The NBC boss who spoke on August 12 2020, at the Stakeholders Meeting on Political Broadcast towards the Edo State Governorship elections said the tone of reportage would make an impact in the conduct of elections.
According to him, “the broadcast climate in Edo state has widened. We now have a rich blend of public and private broadcasters. Access and the plurality of opinion and information that aid political decisions should therefore abound.”
“As broadcasters, you should be mindful that you set the tone for the conduct of elections. The content of your broadcasts either moderate or spike the tempo of elections. You should not allow politicians and other interested parties to use your medium to heat up the polity. You should be mindful of what you put on the air. This requires that you go back to the drawing board and remind yourselves of the provisions of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code,” he advised.
“This is the time that we should all be guided by the consideration that every political broadcast should be in the decent language and devoid of hate speech, inflammatory, derogatory and divisive remarks or allusions. As stated in the Code, a partisan broadcast is one in which the political party is allowed to explain its manifesto and programmes. It is not for running down the candidate of a rival party,” he added.
The NBC boss stressed that the advice was timely because it was the first gathering of the regulator, stakeholders and broadcasters since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic adding that broadcasters should join hands in ensuring that democracy was deepened in Edo state through the conduct of a successful governorship election, which is not only free and fair but peaceful and issue-based.
Idachaba while commending the patriotic efforts of broadcasters during the harsh economic environment, said government reciprocated, through the NBC with “a huge discount of 60% on your indebtedness, as well as a 30% discount on licence fees’’.
He advised the broadcasters to stay safe and also take due advantage of technology in their coverage of political events during the elections.
He advised that technology should become an increasingly important part of campaigns, pointing out that already, technology-mediated communication is the order of the day on our airwaves noting that more television interviews are happening via skype and radio interviews over the phone, rather than in studios. He, therefore, advised broadcasters and politicians alike to embrace this reality.
He also advises adherence to guidelines by health authorities which discourages crowded rallies and large town hall meetings, which were the norm before the outbreak of COVID-19.
Prof. Idachaba also called on broadcasters to brace up to the challenge of providing un-evented media coverage to politicians and political parties, adding that much is on their laps to generate the voter enthusiasm that encourages the electorate to go to the polling booth.
In a related development, the NBC warned against unwholesome free satellite transmission.
A statement from the Commission said it noticed the transmission of Free-To-Air satellite signals with unwholesome content into the Country in recent times with some of the channels deliberately seeking to undermine the unity and peace of the country.
The Commission said it has, therefore, become expedient to remind all broadcasters or operators and users of satellite broadcasting in Nigeria of the provisions of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code and the Act which are the grand laws for broadcasting in Nigeria.
To buttress its point, the statement quoted Section 2 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which states that, “No person shall operate or use any apparatus or premises for the transmission of sound or vision by cable, television, radio, satellite or any other medium of the broadcast from anywhere in Nigeria except under and in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
The statement, therefore, advised all broadcasters transmitting Free-To-Air satellite services to encrypt all broadcasting signals on their platform.
“We also wish to request all Pay TV channels to observe the rules on Decency of broadcast Content. Many Pay TV channels, especially, carry very indecent and obscene contents. Broadcasters must take cognizance of the Code provisions on Watershed,” it said.