Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:57 pm
By Eromosele Ebhomele.
There are indications that Nigeria’s new Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, would soon begin the process to reposition all the Federal Government-owned media so that they can compete favourably with the private media in the country.
Mohammed, who spoke on Thursday during his first meeting with heads of parastatals under his ministry, specifically mentioned the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, as well as the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, as having thrown professionalism in their activities resulting in loss of credibility and integrity.
As a result, he said, many Nigerians now rely on private media houses to get their information further boosting the image of such private media and attracting them to advertisers while the Federal Government-owned media grapple with the challenge of not being patronised.
The government-owned media are known to have lost some credibility over time and this got worse during the 2015 general election when the NTA aired damaging documentary on then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, who eventually won the election. There had also been allegations of the government-owned media shutting out the opposition from airing its activities.
“Indeed, most Nigerians find the private broadcasters more credible. The reason for this is not farfetched. First, the public broadcasters have thrown professionalism to the wind while also showing total disregard for editorial independence. They have mortgaged their credibility. Yet, these Federal Government-owned media establishments are endowed with highly-trained and well-qualified personnel, better infrastructure and a wide reach.
“It is interesting to note that these government-owned media organisations complain of financial woes, forgetting that there is a link between credibility and profitability. Advertisers will surely flock to more credible media organizations, and of course it is also true that content drives advertisement. The same law of diminishing returns also applies to NAN, which was once the leading national news agency in the whole of Africa, boasting of the best professionals in the news business. Today, the agency is punching far below its weight, despite its presence in all the states of the Federation.
Continuing, Mohammed said: “it is true that while we were in opposition, we were treated as outcasts by these public broadcasters. They denied us the use of their platforms, they rejected our adverts and even made themselves available for the most abhorrent hate campaign ever in the history of electioneering campaign in our country. But in an era of change, which is our mantra, that cannot and will not continue. Opposition members are Nigerians, just like members of the ruling party. Even the ruling party will benefit when the opposition is allowed to air their views freely, because you learn more from people who disagree with you. Therefore, let the ruling party and the opposition air their ideas and let the people, who wield the ultimate power, decide at the end of the day.
“To the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), I say we are committed to the realisation of the Digital Switch Over in Nigeria, because of the inherent opportunities that this will unleash in the news, entertainment and creative industries and the vibrancy that it will usher into the sector. This will in turn create jobs for millions of our teeming youths. The same is true of the National Film Corporation and the National Film and Video Censor Board, which are also key to propagating the change agenda. In the end, all of us here, including the Voice of Nigeria, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria and the Nigerian Press Council will have a role to play in the days ahead, when we launch the massive national reorientation campaign aimed at achieving a paradigm shift in the way we do things.”