Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tough times await electronic media,producers – NBC

TOUGH times await broadcast stations and independent presenters in the country, who fail to abide by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) code of conduct, beginning this quarter; from month of July through September, this year.

Stating this during an exclusive interview with ITRealms Online in Lagos, over the weekend, was the Zonal Director, NBC, Mr. Olufemi Ayeni, who noted that this is now rampant among stations located in the Western part of the country and precisely Lagos.

He said that NBC code has no room for independent presenters, but has accommodation for the broadcasting stations to commission such a person for the purposes of providing content only.

“But over the years, marketing agents or officers who are on their own, and who work for stations’ marketing and commercial departments and get commissions for it have now turned to independent presenters,” he said.

Mr. Ayeni said presentation used to be the onions of the profession but that the introduction of deregulation has eroded all the values associated with the profession.

“We have a lot of young men who were selling pure water yesterday, because they can buy airtime now coming on air to present programmes, with what training is he doing that, is broadcasting a profession for anybody without training to come into,” he asked?

He also said the broadcast stations owe it a duty to infuse broadcast language, etiquette, comportment, confidence and credibility on their programme presenters.

“NBC is not at war with independent presenters, if anything at all, we are regulating and maintaining standards put on the airwaves by this crop of broadcasters who call themselves independent presenters and producers,” Ayeni said.

He equally said that beginning with this quarter advertisements that run for more than nine minutes in an hour will earn any station a sanction and that presenters are not allowed to air their opinions on their programmes.

“There is a difference between sponsorship and advertisement; there is a difference between an advertisement and a paid announcement. There is also a difference between a paid announcement and a jingle and also a difference between a packaged programme and a listless programme that has no beginning or end. We are asking our colleagues to fall back to all those golden rules,” he insisted.

Mr. Ayeni noted that stations that fall short of this regulatory standards are given a minimum fine of N100,000, adding that such programmes are taken off the air while the stations are given 14 days to pay the fine.

Equally, the NBC director said defaulting stations have started receiving text messages alerting them and that by last weekend, letters conveying the nature, time and fine attached to those breaches would begin to go to the stations concerned.

“We are not interested in taking fines from stations but they have no other choice than to comply. I know that if I fine you N100,000 which is the minimum. N99,999.00, is the class six sanction and if you are sanctioned three times for breaches that will be N300,000.00 which is enough to purchase 3,000 litres of diesel,” he said.

Advising broadcast stations in the country and Lagos particularly to ensure they stick to the standards, stressing that the problem of unregulated and unrestricted broadcast by trado-medical and religious programmes presenters have become a thing of the past, alleging that some of these presenters deliberately instill fear on the people so that they could be patronized.

NBC, he said, had last March, summoned seven of the most notorious stations and with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) in attendance, where they were given a deadline with clause to stop forthwith such broadcasts.

“You can advertise, but when you do direct it with the people you are advertising to in mind and you do so sensibly, reasonably and rationally. You cannot go about mentioning serious diseases that you claim to cure. That does not fall within the spirit and letter of the NBC code,” he warned.

In his reaction, the President of Freelance and Independent Broadcasters Association (FIBA), Mr. Ambrose Shomide, told ITRealms Online in a telephone chat that FIBA has no grouse with the decision of the NBC to instill professionalism among practitioners, but that there are still some grey areas that needed clarification.

Mr. Shomide said the association will be holding a crucial meeting with the NBC this week and that it is hoped that these issues will form part of the agenda.

“I have arranged a meeting with the NBC Zonal Director, and I have no problem with the regulators’ pursuit of professionalism, however, there are some issues that we need to meet and discuss and until then, I have no comment to make in this regard,” he said.

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