The commission said that unlike the 2015 general elections, where hate speeches almost brought calamity to the country, as a regulator of the broadcast media, it would not allow such frigtening dimensions polarize the country through the media.
It therefore urged broadcast media practioners to leave above personal inclinations and ensure that their media outfits were not used as weapons of division and threat to national unity and democracy in the 2019 elections.
Speaking in Enugu, Monday, at a workshop ‘Media Coverage of 2015 Elections: Challenges, Regulatory Framework and the Way Forward for a more Democratic Society,’ the Director General of NBC, Is’haq Modibbo Kawu said that the 2015 General Elections were arguably the most contentious in the national history, very fractious; politically charged and brought the media, most frontally, with the reality of hate speech, fake news and utterly abusive language, and the most unscrupulous attitude in Political Broadcasting in Nigeria.
“Many discerning observers of the media landscape in general, and of broadcasting in particular, are already afraid and they are saying that unless all of us, and especially the broadcasters, sit up, Political Broadcasting in 2019, will be even more intolerant and abusive of the fundamental ethics and values of broadcasting, than what we witnessed in 2015,” Kawu said.
He disclosed that the commission had sanctioned over 50 broadcast organisations for various infractions and violations arising from political broadcasts, flaying the recent coverages of political party primaries which he alleged some stations unethically took sides.
“Some of you allowed parties and candidates to begin campaigns ahead of the officially allowed time. On the other hand, some of you are already showing signs of partisanship. Your programmers biases are readily visible for all to see. Rather than act as umpires, we have thrown our hat and hearts into the ring. We compete with our guests in the effort to express our views, pretending to be experts. A lot of our political presenters apparently enjoy listening to the sounds of their own voices. And this seems so obvious in the manner that they rattle on and on, in their programming.
“As a regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission will not idly watch, and allow the irresponsible tendency towards the abandonment of the ethical imperatives of our profession, to push the country towards a descent into crisis.
“More than ever before, and as we approach the electioneering season that will usher in the 2019 General Elections, the Commission will ensure that broadcasters play strictly by the rules. In the last two quarters of 2018, the Commission has sanctioned over 50 broadcast stations – on violations related to political broadcasting and hate speech. Many have been fined and those who remain recalcitrant shall face stiffer sanctions,” he stated.