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Reps caution media against hate-campaigns

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•Drill NBC chief, others over broadcast

• INEC to probe failure, repeat card reader demonstration in Ebonyi

THE House of Representatives Committee on Information and National Orientation yesterday drilled several heads of regulatory outfits in the country’s media industry over the spate of provocative advertisements and sponsored items being publicised since the start of the campaign for the general elections.

Among those summoned by the Umar Baba Jibrin-led committee were the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr. Emeka Mba; the Registrar of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Malam Bello Kankarofi and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), Mr. Nnamdi Njemanje.

In attendance were the Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Mr. Shola Omole and Mr. Kenny Elisha of DAAR Communications as well as officials of the Africa Independent Television (AIT), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Multichoice and other media outfits.

Before the start of the interactive session between the lawmakers and the media chiefs, Jibrin reminded them on the need to be non- partisan and not allow their outfits to become platforms for the mudslinging tactics of desperate political players.

Jibrin, who said the media being the watchdog of the society and agenda setters for moulding public opinion must be seen to be above board both in their reportage and advertorials, did not mince words in pointing out that media regulators had failed in discharging their regulatory responsibilities.

According to him: “Since the beginning of the electioneering campaigns, there has been noticeable disregard to the laid-down rules and regulations governing political coverage and broadcasting. It’s most unfortunate that the regulators have allowed politics of slander in media adverts to take the centre-stage, which is now smearing the good image of the country.

“As a committee, we’ve had causes on several occasions to draw the attention of both operators and regulators to the unfortunate development which is capable of causing both the breakdown of law and order and the spread of hatred. The media being the watchdog of the society and agenda-setters for moulding public opinion must be seen to be above board both in their reportage and advertorials.”

But Mba insisted that he had always lived up to his responsibility, adding that the media outfits, which exercise the discretion on what they publicise, hide under the freedom of expression rights to do so.

He, however, said that his outfit had always drawn the line on issues of religion, ethnicity and race, which could be a source of disunity among Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it would carry out a thorough investigation of why its Smart Card Readers (SCRs) failed in Ebonyi State during last week’s simultaneous test-run of the controversial facility it planned to deploy for accreditation of voters for the March 28 and April 11, 2015 rescheduled election days.

The commission yesterday said it took a serious view of the high rate of the SCRs’ failure to authenticate voters’ fingerprints in some areas, and has decided to repeat the public demonstration on March 14, 2015 in the state.

In a statement signed by Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the Commission, Kayode Idowu and made available to The Guardian late yesterday, said the decision followed its meeting last Monday where the authorities considered field reports from the public demonstration of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) conducted in 12 states on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

While reassuring the public that it will do everything necessary to ensure that the processes of the elections are seamless, free, fair, credible and peaceful, INEC said it is satisfied that the use of SCRs in the 2015 general elections will add tremendous transparency and credibility to the accreditation process on Election Day.

Continuing, the NBC director-general said: “We do not pre-censor any editorial content because we do not have such powers, particularly when they are live coverage. This is perhaps the most keenly contested election in Nigeria’s history. This election has tested NBC’s ability to regulate broadcast.”

On the statement credited to the First Lady, Patience Jonathan where at a rally in Calabar she was said to have ordered PDP to stone supporters of other parties if they come to canvass for votes, he disapproved of such action, saying it was illegal to incite people to go against a section of the population.

 



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