No going back on social media regulation – NBC

By Adelola Amihere

The Acting Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Prof Armstrong Idachaba has explained that the new regulations on content emanating from the social media, are intended to mandate owners of distribution platforms to ensure through self-regulation, and the statutory provisions that contents that will emerge from their platforms are not harmful content.

This is just as it noted that it does not intend to, and cannot deny citizens freedom of expression as entrenched by the Constitution.

Prof. Idachaba who made these known at a media briefing in Abuja on Friday, stressed that the broadcast regulator has a mandate to ensure that content that emanates from them, no matter what the platform, must be healthy and not harmful to the people of the country.

According to him, “Many people assume social media is a platform that should be unhindered, technology is a facilitator and no matter what freedom you have, if your content becomes harmful, the government has a responsibility to look at it and find ways to mitigate the impact.

“Government all over the world are holding social media companies to account and we are saying the social media and any other media will continue to remain free and vibrant but, going forward, we will interface with those who are rendering those services, so that when there is a need, we can tell them, that for our own national good, you need to moderate these contents and the one that is going to be extremely damaging, we will request you to take it off.

“We must discourage contents that corrupt the minds, inciting comments, fake news and other harmful content,” he said.

He assured that the regulation on social media content will be done only to ensure that the content is healthy and fit for the citizens of the country, and to avoid content that will destroy and bring down the nation.

Speaking further on the area of regulating monopolistic tendencies by rights owners, he noted that the regulator owes the country a responsibility to provide regulations that will promote the economic and overall interest of the vast majority of Nigerians.

“We need DFI no doubt but even the DFI should further expand the opportunities for the growth of our citizens. Therefore the idea is that Rights owners will have their rights protected but they should be willing to allow Nigerians benefit from the exploitation of those rights,” he noted.

On the Digital Switch Over, he said that the commission and the federal government remain committed to the realisation of the digital transition because of its vast benefits to the vast number of Nigerians.

“We acknowledge that roll out has been slow, but with the support and drive of the Minister of Information and the Board of the NBC we are resolved to continue with the roll–out. Therefore, the Digiteam and the NBC along with stakeholders shall release a new roll out time indicating switch dates within the next three weeks.

“I want to assure you that the commission remains committed to its objectives of promoting broadcasting for national development. We are avowed to promote pluralism of ideas, diversity of opinion and choice of content.

“We believe that the broadcast industry is critical to the realisation of the economic potentials of our nation and in building national cohesion,” he added.

On sanctions to broadcast stations, he said that the commission is not fascinated about sanctions, as the NBC wants a free and robust industry where people express themselves, adding that the commission would step in when there was a breach.

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