The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) held a Stakeholders’ Meeting on Political Broadcasts in Kano on October 26, 2017, to address rising concerns over a number of harmful broadcasts emanating from broadcast stations.
The meeting was also convened to receive the report of the study that the NBC commissioned on Hate Speech in Nigeria in the context of the manner that broadcasting was reportedly abused in the lead to the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria.
Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, Director General of the NBC, disclosed at the Kano Stakeholders’ Meeting on Political Broadcasts that the Commission was concerned about the unprofessional and unethical ways of broadcasting across the country and that Kano presents its own set of challenges hence the need for the meeting of the stakeholders.
He said: “the manner that political broadcasts have been produced and presented, especially the unceasing breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, has become a source of worry for us at the National Broadcasting Commission.”
Mallam Kawu lamented that: “It has become very worrisome that in spite of the very clear and laudable objectives of the [NBC] Code some broadcasters have continued to use the medium to create hate and stir conflicts. This explains why we have decided to convene this meeting. Broadcasters in this Zone are increasingly heating up the polity and becoming recklessly divisive. This trend must stop.”
The NBC staff, he said, work round-the-clock every day monitoring the broadcasts of stations in every part of Nigeria adding that the NBC endeavours to do a very professional work of trying to keep its licensees on the straight and narrow path of adhering strictly to the letters and spirit of the Code.
Kano State, according to Mallam Kawu, presents very serious challenges in terms of the refusal of broadcasters to do the right thing.
Noting that the political elite deploys every available weapon of political warfare, “most especially the manipulation of the fault lines of society, such as ethno-religious contradictions; the manipulative use of money and the desperate desire to compromise the media to achieve advantages that might in the long run, work against the overall health of society” he said the NBC discovered that “there is no rule that cannot be broken in these scenarios”
Mallam Kawu pointed out that “the most troubling is the manner that the media, and especially the broadcast media, is suborned, as platforms for the purveying of Hate and Dangerous Speech.”
He warned that in a society where people always listened to, and believed what they hear from their radio, the issue is a veritable danger to society.
Mallam Kawu listed some of the breaches to the NBC code to include · broadcast of indecent language, unbalanced programmes, unfounded/unsubstantiated remarks, inciting statements, political campaigning before stipulated time, live phone-in programmes, trado-medic adverts that make claims, lifting stories from the internet and newspapers, and lack of straight dealings. He therefore warned broadcast stations in the Kano Zone to be wary of them.
The DG of NBC noted that the trend was nationwide and not restricted to Kano State citing examples breaches of the broadcast codes.
He cited the broadcast of a documentary on the Asaba Massacre on October 4, three days after the controversial deadline given to Igbos to vacate the North. He said it stated that “Nigerian army Regiment commanded by Murtala Mohammed ‘invaded’ Asaba and slaughtered about 400 hundred people’’.
Mallam Kawu said the NBC stopped the programme and fined the station N600,000 adding that he later learnt the station involved “fired the unprofessional and rather carefree presenter … for her lack of discretion and editorial responsibility”.
Similarly, he said Vision FM Katsina, on October 9, 2017, durng the broadcast of a programme “Kowane Tsunsu”, alleged that Governor Masari caused the killing of some youths.
He added that on October 18, 2017 the NBC had cause to summon the General Managers of three broadcast stations in Bauchi, another place, he noted, “that has increasingly become heated up due to competing hate statements by the various radio stations in the state capital at Bauchi”.
Throwing light on the NBC’s intervention, he said it was proposing the addition of two articles under ‘Professional Guidelines’ to the NBC Code to address the challenge.
One of the proposed articles states that: “No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity.”
The second article proposed for the NBC Code says “Hate speech is prohibited; therefore, a Broadcaster shall not transmit any program, program promotion, community service announcement or station identity, which is likely, in any circumstance, to provoke or perpetuate in a reasonable person, intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or groups of people because of age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or political leanings.”
Believing that we owe Nigeria a major responsibility to ensure that broadcasting would no longer be suborned as a platform to purvey hate in the Nigerian political and electoral system, Mallam Kawu said the NBC, as the regulatory institution for broadcasting, was committed to playing a very important role in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.