…Restate commitment to defence of freedom of expression, media freedom

Media stakeholders yesterday said that a media regulatory framework led and driven by media professionals represents the most effective guarantee of media freedom and the independence of the media, in line with with regional and international norms and standards.

 The stakeholders, comprising representatives of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC), as well as media managers met in Lagos on Tuesday, at a one-day strategic meeting of media stakeholders to deliberate on a framework for Media regulation in Nigeria.

 The meeting, which was supported by the United States of American Embassy in Nigeria, was convened by the NGE in continuation of an ongoing initiative, which includes a series of town-hall meetings and capacity-building workshops for editors in Nigeria also restated the commitment of media stakeholders to defend freedom of expression, media freedom and independence as well as the public’s right to know.

 In a communique issued at the end of the meeting and signed by Mustapha Isah, the President, NGE; Feyi Smith, the Executive Secretary of NPAN; Chris Isiguzo, the President of NUJ; Edetaen Ojo, the Executive Director of MRA, and Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director of IPC, the participants therefore resolved to pursue a self-regulatory framework to ensure improved standards in the Nigerian media, as well as to protect the media sector from interference, control and repression by government.

 According to the communique, ‘’The meeting agreed that consistent with regional and international norms and standards, a media regulatory framework led and driven by media professionals represents the most effective guarantee of media freedom and the independence of the media.

 ‘’The stakeholders also resolved to effectively implement the existing Code of Ethics for Nigerian journalists while the process of updating same is on. The participants also resolved to work together as a sector for the betterment of the journalism profession as well as media business.’’

 The meeting commended media houses that have already appointed local Ombudsman in their organizations and called on those that have not appointed or designated such mechanisms to take urgent steps to do so; while the community works on the institution of a global arrangement.

 The meeting also set up a committee made up of representatives of the different stakeholder groups to develop a framework for self-regulation by the media in Nigeria; which will be presented to a larger meeting of media stakeholders.

 The stakeholders were mandated to look at all the reports of various committees set up to review the laws guiding the practice, the profession and the business of the media as a guide to a final position.

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