The House of Representatives on Tuesday said that media regulators had failed to discharge their regulatory responsibilities of ensuring positive and development political campaigns.
Chairman, House Committee on Information and National Orientation, Rep. Buba Jibril (Kogi-APC), said this at the committee’s interactive meeting with media regulators and owners in Abuja.
Jibril said political campaigners had continued to exploit the media negatively as the polls drew closer.
The lawmaker said media organisations were supposed to be non-partisan, adding that the outfits had become platforms for mudslinging by desperate politicians.
“This situation is highly unhealthy for the nation’s nascent democracy.
“The media, being the watchdog of the society and agenda setters for moulding public opinion, must be seen to be above board both in their reportage and advertorials.
“It is most unfortunate that the regulators have allowed politics of slander in media advertisements to take the centre stage which is now smearing the good image of the country,” he said.
According to Jibril, “as a committee we have had causes to draw the attention of both operators and regulators on the unfortunate development.
“As can be clearly seen, the development is capable of causing breakdown of law and order and the spread of hatred.”
However, the Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr Emeka Mba, said the commission had tried to perform its duties.
Mba explained that NBC lacked the legal backing to pre-censor editorial contents of the media houses. “We do not pre-censor any editorial content because we do not have such powers particularly when they are live coverage.
“This is perhaps the most keenly contested election in Nigeria’s history.
“The pre-election exercise has tested NBC’s ability to regulate broadcast.
“Where NBC draws the line is when materials tend to have religious messages that are inciting.”
Mba said the commission had taken necessary steps to sanction erring media houses, as according to him, the commission would commence audit of such materials.
“Where a report is made and there is a breach, then we can take necessary steps. There is no failure in regulation as yet.
“Some stations are being investigated and if found to have breached the broadcast rules, will be sanctioned appropriately,” Mba said.
Executive Secretary, Nigeria Press Council (NPC), Mr Nnamdi Njemanze, said it was faced by resistance of some media houses towards it oversight role.
Njemanze, therefore, urged politicians and political parties to adhere to the code of ethics, particularly in the content of their copies.
He also advised media houses to ensure all political parties were given equal coverage.