The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has cautioned all broadcasters against compromising national unity while covering forthcoming general rlections.
The Director-General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Ilelah, issued the warning in a statement, on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said, “The National Broadcasting Commission wish to again, remind all broadcasters covering the forthcoming general elections to take note of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, and other relevant regulations guiding the broadcast of elections in Nigeria.
“The commission has observed, with deep concerns, how ethics and ethos have been thrown to the winds by politicians using broadcast media platforms.
“This is against the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, which provides that in using materials for news and current affairs programmes, the broadcaster shall avoid hate speech, inflammatory, derogatory and divisive remarks or allusions.
“ The commission notes that some station now glamorise these situations on their platforms. The NBC reiterates that such stations shall pay for their professional misdemeanor.”
Ilelah said for the avoidance of doubt, broadcasters were advised to note the sections of the Nigeria broadcasting code which provides that the broadcaster shall promote human dignity.
He added: “Therefore, hate speech is prohibited. Section 3.11.1 (a) states that all broadcasters should ensure that language or a scene likely to encourage or incite to crime, or lead to disorder, is not broadcast.
“Also, section 3.11.1 (b) advice broadcaster to ensure that no programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
“Similarly, section 5.4.1 (f) prohibit broadcasters from transmitting divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.”
Ilelah said that section 5.3.3 (g) urged broadcasters to ensure that a political broadcast was clearly identified as such, and not presented in a manner that would mislead the audience to believe that the programme was of any other type.
“Also, section 5.3.3 (j) enjoin broadcasters to ensure that the broadcast of a partisan political campaign, jingle, announcement and any form of partisan political party identification or symbol ends not later than 24 hours before polling day.
“The NBC ACT CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, also prescribes, in the Third Schedule 12(6) that “A Licensee shall be responsible for the content of the Station’s Broadcast.
“ The commission enjoins all broadcasters to desist from using or allowing their platforms and facilities to be used by politicians, their supporters and or sympathisers, for the broadcast of contents that may lead to the breakdown of law and order,” Ilelah said.
He said that broadcasters were therefore expected to perform the role of peace agents by adhering to the principles of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.