Nigeria goes after fake news, hate speech as NBC reviews broadcasting code

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Nigerian authorities are reviewing the broadcasting code to tame the rising challenges from fake news and hate speech, an official of the broadcast regulator, Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos, central Nigeria.

At a colloquium organised by the Plateau chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), to mark this year’s Press Week, the official, Dr. Igomu Onoja, Zonal Director, North-Central, said it has become exigent to review the country’s law licensed broadcasting check the excesses of broadcasting stations as well as enforced ethnics of the profession.

“We have radio stations in Jos clapping for people that say that the Plateau governor is mentally deranged; even worse things have been said on air. We cannot tolerate that,” said Onoja at the event with the theme: “Fake News, Hate Speech and Nigeria’s Democratic Sustenance.”

Onoja argued it was part of media ethics to ensure balance reporting and give all parties equal hearing. Media organisations has obligation to allot equal air time to political parties and groups as the campaigns for the 2019 general elections deepens, the regulator said even as he warned media houses from being used by desperate politicians to “pollute the system with hate speech” intend on causing chaos.

“If you give 30 minutes to Party A, the same duration should be given to party B in the same media organisation,” Onoja stressed warning broadcast houses against being partisan.

Politics reign supreme in Nigeria’s airwaves and feast on hatred and incitements, guest speaker Prof. Umaru Pate of Mass Communication department, Bayero University, Kano, had earlier said in a sweeping accusation against broadcast companies.

“More than 70 per cent of the news we cover is political; practically all the headlines are political. We do not seem to have time for the economy and even insecurity that has been a major concern for the poor.

“Everything political is news, but burning issues like poverty and violent conflicts do not seem to worry us. This is bad. And sad,” Pate said while blaming the rise in fake news and hate speech on absence of patriotism, ethnic and religious bigotries, political affiliations and foreign interests.

Pate, regretted that prominent persons had taken advantage of the significance of the media in societal processes to misinform, deceive and incite.

Social media has helped to redefine news delivery for good and bad, said Pate. But the dangers it poses, unchecked is beginning to outweigh its merits added Pate while accusing Nigerians in the Diaspora of promoting fake news and hate speeches without a deeper understanding of local issues in the country. To him, Nigerians abroad are the biggest purveyors of fake news even as he also chastised mainstream media for unwittingly disseminating fake news and hate speech.


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