Mohammed disclosed that the recommendations approved by the president include the independence of the broadcast regulators from all forms of interference.
The Federal Government on Thursday reiterated its resolve to sanitize the use of social media in Nigeria.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved measures to rid the airwaves of fake news and hate speech.
Mohammed disclosed that the recommendations approved by the president include the independence of the broadcast regulators from all forms of interference, an upward review of fines for media houses from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
The Minister made the disclosure at the 2019 Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, annual titled: ”Extremism: A Threat To National Unity” in Abuja.
According to Mohammed: “Last July, we launched the National Campaign on Fake News and Hate Speech, and we have recently upped the ante by moving ahead to inject sanity into our broadcast industry. The power of radio and television, including their wide reach, means that we should not allow extremists to turn these powerful media platforms into a catalyst for conflict.
“Mr. President has graciously approved our recommendations to rid our airwaves of fake news and hate speech, especially coming on the heels of the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations before and during the last general elections.
“The recommendations include the independence of the broadcast regulators, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers; A review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect some amendments, including upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
“Wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station will attract suspension of license, while the breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments has been upgraded to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
“I have since set up an implementation committee on the recommendations, and when the committee concludes its work, we will begin the implementation without delay. We will then move on to work out the modalities for injecting sanity into the Social Media space, which some extremists have turned to a platform for disseminating fake news and hate speech which, like I said, are dangerous tools in the hands of extremists.
“Since announcing our plan to sanitize both the broadcast industry and the Social Media, there have been varying reactions from Nigerians. I must say this is welcome. It’s exactly what we want: National discourse on the responsible use of the airwaves and the social media. But, for the umpteenth time, I want to say that responsible and ethical journalists, and indeed all patriots, have nothing to fear.
“Only anarchists and non-patriots, the purveyors of fake news and hate speech, need to worry. This Administration has no intention to gag the media or stifle free speech, but it also won’t sit by and allow hate speech to become free speech.
“As I have said at many fora, no responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to endanger our national unity. So, while we welcome the support of most Nigerians who have reached out to us on the need to clean up the airwaves and the social media, we also note the criticism of those who oppose our efforts.
“Make no mistake, however, we are committed to ensuring a responsible and ethical use of our airwaves and the social media.”