Professor Armstrong Idachaba who is the Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) says the commission imposed sanctions on broadcast stations during the #EndSARS protests because they were reckless in the coverage of the protests.
Recall that the commission in October, imposed N3 million fine each on media houses including ARISE News, AIT, and Channels TV, over claims that they used unverifiable video footage from social media to cover the #EndSARS protests.
In an interview with AriseTV today November 11, Idachaba explained why the commission had to fine the broadcasting houses.
“We had to impose a sanction because we found out that in the coverage of the #EndSARS campaign that many broadcasters began to be reckless in the coverage of the crisis.
At the beginning of the crisis, there was fairness and reasonable professionalism. All shades to the issue were given the opportunity to present their positions. The broadcasters followed the agitators as they went on their protest which at the initial stage was peaceful. When government responded and preferred solutions and answers to the demands of the protesters, the broadcasters also gave the government view.
What we monitored was a dramatic turnaround the moment the protest became violent. Rather than come up with facts of the issues, we began to see deliberate distortions, manipulated storylines, face infusions and intrusions into the narrative in the graphic presentations that rather than help to reduce the situation, more or less aggravated it.
We saw spurious claims, misrepresentation of facts, and these are clear violations of the provisions of the broadcasting code.
We began to wonder whether broadcasters have abdicated their ethical requirements.
For point of clarity, Section 5.6.2 of the broadcast code says the broadcaster shall approach with restraint the use of materials from user-generated sources and that was the problem. User-generated sources. Broadcasters abdicated their own rule of relying on their own reporters.
Many of you had reporters at many of those locations but the stories you churned out, the visuals you churned out emanated from other user-generated sources and these sources were not corroborated, authenticated, and not verified. They were largely misleading.”
Speaking further, Idachaba said
”The facts available to us shows that most of the pictures that were transmitted at the time of that conflict, pictures depicting violence and the pictures that attempted to justify what several of you called mass killings or massacre were actually gotten from social media sources. Quite strangely, one or several of them gleefully on their station claimed that the source of information was a certain DJ and the DJ had a reputation for uploading visuals. How much of those contents did they subject to verification? ”
On how the Commission got to know that some of the materials used were fake, Idachaba said
”Regarding how we came about to know that some of these videos are fake, it’s out there in the public. Some of the visuals and footages that were shown, some of the people that they claimed died at the location came out to say they are alive and did not die.
There was a particularly funny one that showed a Nigerian in the flag that was drained in blood and that was shown round the country. It elicited a lot of agony and pain amongst Nigerians and it turned out much later that that visual was obtained from a rehersal class of a theatre arts department in a Nigerian university years before now.
Many of Nigerians broadcasters were in that location. I saw them. I saw some of them running and saying ‘Okay now as we are talking the soldiers are here’ and then they left. The moment they left, they started bringing pictures that were gotten from other sources claiming that those people were streaming. If those people had the safety to stream at the same location, why were our own professional broadcasters licensed by government to pick any of those visuals to corroborate the story they were offering”