The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) yesterday read the out riot act to broadcast stations on political campaigns and hate speeches.
Its Director General, Mallam Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, said liable stations will soon face the law.
He noted that it was wrong and against the ethics of the profession to broadcast campaign messages or programmes when the lid was yet to be lifted.
Kawu, who spoke while briefing reporters on the update of Digital Switch Over (DSO), said the NBC will soon begin to phase out Analogue Switch Off (ASO) in Plateau State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), by the end of the First Quarter of 2018.
The NBC boss warned that media stations must do everything professional to promote the country’s democracy.
Kawu said: “Permit me my dear colleagues, to also take your time to remind our broadcasters that as we approach the electioneering period, stations must do everything professional to promote democracy. Broadcasters are reminded that they have a duty to respect all extant laws related to the reportage and coverage of the electoral process. Don’t broadcast campaigns when the period for commencement of campaigns have not commenced.”
On inciting messages, the NBC boss warned against deliberate airing of contents, which are capable of inciting the people against each other.
“We are disturbed by the pattern of insensitive and inflammatory broadcasts emanating from some broadcast stations, especially in their coverage of national crises, like the herdsmen/farmer crises.
“We have observed that some stations deliberately and repeatedly air very inciting contents long after the events break. We have warned stations that they must follow the tenets of the Broadcasting Code.
“Having warned broadcasters, we shall follow up with appropriate sanctions should any station continue to violate the Broadcasting Code.”
Already, he said the commission is planning a national conference on “politics and hate speech, during which we hope to present the study we commissioned on hate speech”.
Kawu also revealed that the commission has submitted a long list of new radio and television stations to President Muhammad’s Buhari for presidential assent.
“The President has always been encouraging the NBC to open up accesses for Nigerians to be able to register newer radio and television stations, because of his belief that they help to deepen democratic discourse and also help to create new jobs through the broadcasting value chain,” he said.
NBC, he added, has informed the pay DTT operators, GOTV and NTA/STAR TIMES to begin discussions with the two signal distributors – ITS and Pinnacle Communications.
“This is because, in line with the Government White Paper on the Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting, after June 2019, these pay DTT operators would no longer be licensed to operate as both content providers and signal distributors,” he explained.
On DSO, Kawu said by the end of the third quarter of 2018, 12 states would have been hooked up to the digital viewing.
He noted that so far, the digital switch over has been launched in three states, Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara and the Federal Capital Territory.
The commission, he said, is “committed to roll out in many more states this year” with Enugu and Osun on the line to join the list of states in couple of weeks.
He said: “We have already scheduled Monday, February 12, 2018 for the switch on for Enugu state. Similarly February 23rd has been affirmed for the switch on in Osun State.”
The full roll out, he said, is subject to achieving about 95 per cent coverage.