The chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Mr John Momoh, on Wednesday addressed BON 69th General Assembly in Lagos State.
Mr Momoh asked media operators to be more transparent in the course of their duties, especially as they prepare for the 2019 general elections.
Read the full text below;
WELCOME ADDRESS DELIVERED BY CHAIRMAN, BROADCASTING ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA, (BON), MR. JOHN OLATCHY MOMOH, OON, AT THE 69TH BON’S GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN LAGOS, MAY 02, 2018.
How very delighted I am this morning to welcome you all, to this year’s BON General Assembly – the 69th in the series. This Assembly is pursuant to our annual review and our reflective agenda. It’s expected that we’ll be able to build on the gains from last year’s meeting and get ourselves ready to face the challenges of the digital era.
To say that BON has come a long way will be an understatement. The association is progressing steadily, albeit with measured steps. And our role in the shaping of public opinion continues to be very significant.
We cannot also overstate our obligations as broadcasters, either in the moral or in the constitutional sense. In all the dimensions, the charge before us is not only very clear, but also onerous. Which is why we cannot afford to shirk our responsibilities.
The significance of this morning’s event is underscored by the calibre of our keynote speakers. The highly respected Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, who is slated to speak on “The Nigerian Broadcast Media and the 2019 elections” and the eminent and distinguished broadcaster, corporate titan and diplomat Dr Christopher Kolade. He will be speaking to us on “Hate Speech, the 2019 elections, and the Nigerian Media”.
The chosen topics are not just timely – they are also reflective of our contemporary social and political agenda. Professor Yakubu will give an insight into the preparations for the 2019 elections, and the role of the broadcast media, with a view to reminding us of the intricacies of the electioneering process, as well as expanding our understanding of it.
Dr. Kolade’s on his part will focus on Hate Speech, in the build-up to the 2019 elections. Hate speech as you know is a great threat to national cohesion, and can only be rivalled by physical harm, through maiming, and killings.
With the growing influence of social media and its likely role in the elections, we cannot undermine the occurrence of hate speech. It is therefore important for the broadcaster to be cautious, as Dr Kolade will mostly likely caution us.
In the social and political circumstance that we live in, the broadcaster should strive to be a medium of moderation, in such a way as to relay information with decorum, with the logic of perspective, and to be dispassionate in news reporting. Last time I checked, our rules and codes of practice, break this down as balance, objectivity, or fairness.
We have a general understanding of these values; don’t we? Sometimes we keep them, other times we drop the ball. So, as we step into another critical time in our nation’s political life, we have to perform our roles creditably and professionally.
Careful thought should now be given to how we create content because, without that, we could create reasons for discrimination, lack of understanding, misinformation, intolerance and conflict. There are several examples of where literal work or media content has been a source of great human conflict.
There are also many examples of how a misguided broadcast has caused upheaval in societies, just because due regard for the rights or wishes of others have not been considered. As broadcasters, we could do more to support greater media literacy among the public, by explaining the complex world we now live in, as well as better explain how we report it and arrive at our own news judgements.
Greater transparency and accountability are much needed in the current climate of misinformation, political lies and widespread distrust. But, above all, the strength of the broadcaster’s case to “trust us, not them” will lie in sharp, confident, fair reporting.
That means journalism that is differentiated; journalism that breaks from the pack; one that is clearly in touch with public concerns and attitudes, and that which is confident in holding the powerful to account and calling out lies or spin.
Last year’s gathering in Abuja was a success. I am confident that this year’s assembly is going to register an even greater success. And I expect no less, with the obvious enthusiasm around the hall. We’ve been called upon by providence to play a role, and the onus is on us, to play it well.
So, with this as ‘Food for Thought’ I would like to thank and welcome you all once again to the 69th General Assembly of Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, and to wish you all a successful deliberation.
Thank you for listening.