Lekki shooting: Nigeria sanctions Arise News, AIT, Channels TV over End SARS coverage

 

The federal government has sanctioned some major broadcast stations for their coverage of the End SARS protests.

They are Arise News, African Independent Television (AIT) and Channels Television.

The media houses have been fined around N3 million each.

The organizations were also accused of using unverified social media photos and videos of the protests and unrest.

On Monday, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) suggested that the media houses played a part in the escalation of violence across Nigeria.

NBC expressed concern over their alleged “professional misdemeanour”.

The broadcast media monitor noted that the media, especially the broadcast arm, discharged its role professionally in confronting the challenge of COVID-19 crisis, it lamented that the same cannot be said of the coverage of the recent End SARS campaign”.

NBC said its reports indicated that at the early stages of the conflict the broadcast industry largely gave fair and balanced coverage to the issues.

“This trend became completely reversed when violence, wanton destruction and looting were added to the dimensions. Perhaps in the eagerness to break news and be pace setters stations engaged in the very unprofessional attitude of speculative and unverifiable broadcast.”

NBC said they violated provisions broadcasting codes including 5.6.1.

It reads: “In contemporary times, the impact of modern technology has significantly enabled citizen’s contribution to journalism, which are beneficial to broadcasting. In this genre of citizens reportage, deploys such facilities as User Generated Content (UGC), providing instantaneous eye-witness Account of events. Such technological benefits place further demand on the broadcaster to be more cautious of its editorial responsibility.”

The statement also cited code 5.6.2: “News materials sent in by public must be vetted by a broadcaster who has editorial responsibility; and 5.6.3: The broadcaster shall be mindful of materials that may embarrass individuals or organisations or cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the society, in the usage of UGC.”

NBC said the three stations, “AIT especially continued to transmit footages obtained from unverified and unauthenticated social media sources. No doubt these pictures stimulated anger and heightened the violence that was witnessed during the crisis.

“We believe that the whole country has now seen why the spurious and recklessness on social media must not be patronised by the mainstream traditional media. Broadcasters who therefore dogmatically patronise the social media must bury their heads in shame.

“The commission wishes to seize this opportunity to condemn in total terms the assault and intimidation of media houses. The burning of TVC Lagos, The brief closure of Channels TV Lagos are all worrisome indicators of mob treat to the freedom of the press. No nation can grow when the citizens muzzle and intimidate its press.”

NBC advised broadcasters to always ensure that when they use UGC and social media sources, they must ensure their veracity and authenticity.

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