Freelance Journalist Federation has spoken against the call for the establishment of Society of Nigerian Broadcasters to regulate media practice, most especially the broadcast segment.
In a press release on Thursday signed by its convener, Joseph Oye, made available to Vanguard, the group said, “The bill calling for self-regulation of the media in Nigeria is fraught with dangers, which should make such a piece of legislation not to be contemplated at all or even allowed to see the light of the day.”
According to the group, the bill is not just an effort to loosen the role of the National Broadcasting Commission as the independent body for regulating, monitoring and sanctioning erring violators of acceptable media ethical and professional codes but also to create a comfortable breeding ground for criminals to abuse freedom of speech.
The statement said: “As stakeholders in the media industry, we find it expedient to take a position on the clamour for the establishment of a Society of Nigerian Broadcasters (SNB) to regulate media practice particularly the broadcast sector. A bill to this effect is currently with the National Assembly.
“The promoters of the proposed bill draw inspiration from what is obtainable with the legal, medical and engineering practice. Laudable as their arguments are, they fail to appreciate the complexities associated with media practice. Why law practice is an exclusive preserve of lawyers and medicine for Doctors, same cannot be said of media practitioners.
“In the history of journalism and broadcast in particular in Nigeria, practitioners come from journalism, mass communication, English, Linguistics, Sociology, Political Science, Estate Management, among other courses offered in the universities or polytechnics. Most of these courses have nothing to do with broadcast or media practice. Therefore, calling for self-regulation becomes untenable.”
It further stated that the bill would give power to every Tom, Dick and Harry having access to social media to call themselves a journalist.
It said: “With advances in social media, bloggers who could afford a piece of tablet or android phone and can post anything online and call themselves journalists, media men or broadcasters.
“Yet, the foundational values which produce a professional media man or broadcaster are lacking in them and, therefore, it will serve no useful purpose to allow such a group of people to self-regulate their own activities when, in a practical terms, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) empowered to regulate the activities of broadcasters, has been regulating the media so well.
“In our estimation, those advocating for self-regulation should at best call for strengthening of laws establishing NBC and the Nigerian Press Council if indeed they have noticed defects in the laws establishing these regulatory agencies. The bill calling for self-regulation of the media in Nigeria is fraught with dangers, which should make such a piece of legislation not to be contemplated at all or even allowed to see the light of the day.
“The bill is not just an attempt to undo the role of the National Broadcasting Commission as the independent government agency responsible for regulating, monitoring and sanctioning erring violators of acceptable media ethical and professional codes but also to create a fertile breeding ground for criminals to abuse freedom of speech.
“Although, this is not to undermine the core media values exhibited among some practitioners, most people who find themselves in the media or call themselves media practitioners, journalists, or broadcasters in Nigeria do not have the formal or rigorous training attained by doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals to allow them to self-regulate themselves or their activities. They lack the basic training and education on professional and ethical conduct as media people or broadcasters.
“Consequently, we confidently submit that the call for self-regulation is ill conceived as it portends a lot of danger for the broadcast profession, national security and unity of Nigeria.”