The proposed regulation of the media and amendment of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Bills has been described as the situation where the regulatory agency will end up being the accuser, prosecutor and judge.
It was also said that for this not to be the case, the proposed regulation must follow due process rule of law.
Speaking on a radio current affairs programme in Osogbo on Tuesday, Lanre Arogundade, Director, International Press Council (IPC) disclosed that the suggestion that the media did not want to be regulated as put forward by the National Assembly was a blackmail.
Arogundade opined that the regulation should be carried out in a way that the media will be allowed to carry out its constitutional functions.
According to him, “They want to regulate the media without the constitutional right to freedom according to Section 22 of the Constitution.
“The amendment is a regulation that will strangle the media and affect the public rights to know and have credible information.
“The journalism press code should not be under the Minister of Information because the media exists for the public and it represents various interest groups.
“The regulation will enable the Information Minister to still continue pulling the strings”, he concluded.
While noting that the bill to regulate the media and the objections from the media houses would likely result in a long drawn battle, the one time Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, disclosed that other provisions of the NBC and NPC amendment bill will result in the discouragement of investment, taking over of court jurisdiction, compelling newspapers to register with the NPC after registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
He revealed that the registration with the NPC will antagonise Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution as the council can revoke the operational licences of newspapers which in turn will create fear amongst publishers.
As a way to effectively regulate the media landscape, Arogundade suggested that the boards of the NBC and NPC be subjected to confirmation by the National Assembly after recommendations by the President and Minister of Information.
In admitting that the media is not the enemy of government but friends of the society which must uphold public interest, he reminded politicians clamouring for media regulation to remember that when they are out of government, they will still fall back on the media for assistance.