The Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission, the body that regulates the Nigerian broadcast media industry – has prohibited television and radio stations from reporting on bandits, terrorists, and kidnappers. In a statement, NBC warned radio and television stations not to “glamourise the malicious activities of insurgents” during daily newspaper reviews.
Many of the country’s broadcast stations use newspaper headlines for summarising portions of their daily programming. However, in a letter sent to television and radio stations on July 7, 2021, the regulator advised broadcasters to use “caution” when reporting security issues in the country.
The letter, titled ‘Newspaper Reviews and Current Affairs Programmes: A Need For Caution,’ was signed on behalf of the new Director-General of the Commission, Balarabe Ilelah, by Francisca Aiyetan, Director, Broadcast Monitoring.
“The daily headlines of most newspapers are loaded with security topics,” the letter adds. While bringing security information to Nigerians’ doorsteps is necessary, there is a need for care because too many specifics may jeopardise the efforts of our security officials who are tasked with dealing with the insurgency.
As a result, the Commission urges broadcasters to collaborate with the government on security issues. In addition, the Commission reminded broadcasters of Sections 5.4.1(f) and 5.4.3 codes, which read: “The broadcaster shall not transmit divisive contents that threaten or degrade Nigeria’s divisibility and indissolubility as a sovereign state.”
“When reporting on conflict situations, the broadcaster must act as a peacemaker by following the principles of responsibility, accuracy, and neutrality.” But, unfortunately, the federal government has implemented a slew of policies that critics fear would stifle the country’s freedom of expression.