Media stakeholders call for review of amended NBC code

Professionals and scholars of journalism have asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately review the amended broadcasting code and make it media-friendly.

The request was made by media stakeholders on Thursday at the presentation of ‘Question Marks on the 6th NBC Code Amendments’, a publication by a consortium of independent broadcasters and free press advocates.

The publication, co-edited by Lanre Arogundade, executive director of International Press Centre (IPC), and Akintunde Akanni, acting head of the mass communication department of the Lagos State University, details what is described as the “arbitrariness and excesses of the amended code”, which was released last year.

Speaking at the event which held in Lagos, Ralph Akinfeleye, a professor of mass communication at the University of Lagos, said Nigeria already has enough laws to cater for the activities of the media.

He also accused the NBC of overregulating the media industry to the point of ineffectuality.

“We have enough existing laws to take care of the concerns of NBC. Therefore, there’s a need for urgent revision of the sixth amendment of the NBC code. It’s not media-friendly. It’s not also democratically consistent because the other name for democracy is ‘a free press’,” the professor said.

“Government must factor this into their development plan because we are the fourth estate of the realm and will never be the fourth estate of the wreck. So, there’s a need for what we call reciprocity of cordiality between the press and the NBC.

“It appears to me that NBC is trying to overregulate to the extent that they are no longer regulators but traders. A free press is required to make the government accountable at all times, not sometimes. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a revision of the NBC Code.”

On his part, Arogundade said the code contains provisions that seek to discourage the press from demanding accountability from public office holders.

“Consider the fact that section 2.127.2 of the code seeks to confer arbitrary powers on the NBC to, among others, shut down a station for violating the provisions relating to the web or online broadcasting without making any provision for stations that may be concerned to seek redress,” he said.

“By including the government among those that should not be embarrassed, the provision is capable of intimidating the media while encouraging public officials to dodge the responsibility of accountability since they can always resort to the claim of being embarrassed.

“In other words, the provision is capable of undermining the obligation imposed on the media by section 22 of the constitution to monitor governance and hold government accountable to the people, and therefore should be expunged.”

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