By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Mallam Isaq Modibbo Kawu, says the new broadcasting code billed for launch tomorrow, in Kano will reposition the Nigerian broadcasting landscape and address the preponderance of hate speech and fake news that characterise the industry.
He said the new code will reflect some of the recommendations made by the committee constituted by the Commission to review the 2015 general elections with a view to taming the menace of hate speech and unprofessional conduct of some media practitioners in the country.
The code is actually the 6th edition and was prepared since 2017. Kawu said the launch was delayed due to a combination of issues.
According to him, “I can confirm to you that work on the 6th Edition of The Code had been completed since 2017, but it has not been released since then due to a combination of circumstances. We hope that when launched, it will not only complement the existing codes but help in repositioning the broadcasting landscape in this country.”
He also used the opportunity to explain the government’s readiness to complete the digital switchover project despite the paucity of funds. He said the Commission has embarked on an elaborate rollout plan in all the six geopolitical zones of the country, especially Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano where potential investors are eager to move in and explore the vast opportunities in the project.
He said: “We are about to conclude the installation of facilities for Gombe; while the stakeholders are determined to move into the biggest media markets of Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt in the near future. That is part of an elaborate nation-wide rollout plan, along with a definitive timeline for the switch off of Analogue transmission in Jos, Abuja, Ilorin, Kaduna, Enugu, and Osogbo”.
He said a new timetable will be released once it has been approved by the Board of the Commission but, however, assured that the Commission will direct that PAY TV operators desist from the further carriage of free terrestrial TV channels as soon as analogue Switch off is concluded.
N4bn debt owed by broadcast licensees
Kawu also decried the attitude of some broadcast stations owing the Commission over N4billion on license renewal, warning that the big hammer may fall on them in no distant time.
He regretted that “many conspiracy theories challenging smooth regulation of broadcasting in Nigeria have slowed the wheel of progress. We are in an era of persistent pattern of refusal to renew operating licenses. This has led to over N4 billion owed to NBC. We are also challenged by perceived big operators who do not want to be regulated. They owe and want to be allowed to determine what to pay. It’s a very pathetic situation”, he added.