The Federal Government has expressed its disapproval of the unethical coverage of the lekki shooting incident by some media houses in the country.
Consequently, the National Broadcasting Station (NBC), a regulatory authprity in the broadcast industry has sanctioned three major broadcast stations over their alleged roles in escalation of violence across the nation .
The regulator fined Arise TV, African Independent Television (AIT) and Channels Television between N2million and N3million.
The stations were accused of airing unverified images of the alleged shooting.
The protest, which began on a peaceful note has since gone violence, with many states experience wanton destructions and looting of public and private properties.
Acting Director General, Prof. Armstrong Achaba who announced the sanction also warned that should the stations continue to follow this path, the full weight of the law would be brought to bear, which is suspension of operating licence.
Achaba said what the sanction the Commission announced is the B category and if they fail to adhere to broadcast code, then the A category punishment would be unleashed, which is the suspension of operating license.
Announcing the sanction he said, “In line with the provisions of section 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which states that; “the broadcaster shall be held liable for any breach of the Code emanation from the use of material from User Generated Sources”. The Commission has therefore sanctioned Arise TV, Channels TV and AIT in line with the provisions of the broadcasting Code.
“This is to serve as deterrent to broadcasters who deliberately ignore to verify stories before they broadcast.”
The Commission therefore called on broadcasters to always ensure that when they use Userd Generated Sources (UGC) and Social media Sources, they must ensure their veracity and authenticity.
Explaining the situation that led to the sanction, Achaba said, “The National Broadcasting Commission is concerned about the professional misdemeanour of some broadcasting stations in the past couple of days. Whereas it can be said that the Nigerian Media especially the Broadcast media discharged its role professionally and most patriotic in confronting the challenge of #Covid-19 Crisis, the same cannot be said of the coverage of the recent #Endsars campaign.
“Monitoring reports available to the Commission indicate that indeed at the early stages of the conflict the broadcast industry largely gave a Fair and Balanced coverage to the issues. This trend became completely reversed when violence, wonton destruction and looting were added to the dimensions.
“Perhaps in the eagerness to break News and be Pace Setters stations engaged in the very unprofessional attitude of speculative and unverifiable broadcast. This is in spite of the following provisions the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which provides as follows;
5.6.1 “In Contemporary times, the impact of modern technology has significantly enabled Citizen’s contribution to journalism, which are beneficial to broadcasting. In this genre of citizens reportage, deploys such facilities as “User Generated Content” UGC, providing instantaneous eye-witness Account of events. Such Technological benefits place further demand on the broadcaster to be more cautious of its editorial responsibility.
5.6.2 ” The News Materials sent in by Public must be vetted by broadcaster who has editorial responsibility.
5.6.3 “The Broadcaster shall be mindful of materials that may embarrass individuals or organisations or cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the Society, in the usage of UGC.
“Channels Television, Arise TV and AIT especially continued to transmit
“Footages obtained from unverified and unauthenticated Social media sources.
“No doubt these pictures stimulated anger and heightened the violence that was witnessed during the crisis.
“We believe that the whole country has now seen why the spurious and recklessness on the Social Media must not be patronised by the main stream traditional media. Broadcasters who therefore dogmatically patronise the Social Media must bury their heads in shame.
The Commission wishes to seize this opportunity to condemn in total terms the assault and intimidation of media houses. The burning of TVC Lagos, The brief closure of Channels TV Lagos are all worrisome indicators of mob treat to the freedom of the press. No nation can grow when the citizens muzzle and intimidate its Press.
“We are at the stage of our nation’s history when our broadcasters have a crucial responsibility for responsive and professional broadcasting. By picking unverified, unsubstantiated Social media sources and repeating the narratives, our broadcasters have shown crass lack of professionalism and a disposition to be escalators of conflict and more seriously a threat to Nigeria.”