The Nigerian Press Council Act No 85 of 1992 (as amended in Act 60 of 1999) is the piece of legislation touted to revolutionise media legislation in the country, to maintain high professional standards for the press through an agency known as the Nigerian Press Council (NPC). The Council was so empowered that it could summon any Nigerian to its meeting to give evidence and to be examined as a witness in any case brought against journalists or newspapers. It could also suspend errant journalists from practice for a period of up to six months.
Close to three decades after the establishment of the Council, there are no recent examples of sanctions against journalists or newspapers. Nigerian journalism is replete with shining lights who adhere to globally acceptable standards of ethics. But the system is not entirely free of unethical and biased reporting, suppression of stories and corruption, against which the NPC has been toothless to act.
The NPC is also inconspicuous in matters relating to its mission “to proactively respond to the needs of the Nigerian mass media and the public by facilitating — through complaints resolution, research, training and workshops — the sustainable development of journalism profession, curricula and accreditation of journalism training institutions in Nigeria.”
Much against the lofty ideas that birthed its establishment, NPC currently operates in the realm of a pressure group, its executive secretaries often seen giving speeches at events and issuing statements to journalists and the public.
The broadcast industry story is the complete opposite. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the broadcast regulator set up in 1992 by Decree 38 of 1992, later amended as an Act of the National assembly by Act 55 of 1999 and now known as National Broadcasting Commission Laws of the Federation 2004, CAP N11, regulates and controls the broadcasting industry, among other responsibilities.
NBC maintains strict regulatory control over the Nigerian airwaves, with zero tolerance especially for Not To Be Broadcast (NTBB) content. Only in November 2017, it fined 23 broadcasting stations to the tune of N2.849m for various breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.