SERAP Sues Buhari Over Gag Order On Reporting Of Terrorist Attacks

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees
A logo of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and AccountabilityProject (SERAP) and the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development have filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, over the order stopping journalists and broadcast stations from reporting details of terrorist attacks and victims.

They are asking the court to declare the order illegal.

Joined in the suit as Defendant, is the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The suit followed the directive by the NBC, asking journalists, television and radio stations in Nigeria to stop “glamourising and giving too many details on the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers” during their daily newspaper reviews.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/725/2021 filed last Friday, SERAP and PTCIJ are seeking: “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the government of President Buhari, the NBC, and Mr Lai Muhammed or any other persons from imposing fines or other sanctions on broadcast stations for carrying out their constitutional duties of reporting details of terrorist attacks and victims during daily newspaper reviews.”

Read Also: ‘Information Blackout’: Nigeria Newspapers Campaign Against Media Bills

They are also seeking “an order to compel and direct the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed to withdraw the directive asking journalists and broadcast stations to stop reporting details on terrorist attacks and victims, as the directive is unlawful and inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], and the country’s international human rights obligations.

“An order setting aside the directive on reporting of terrorist attacks and victims, for being inconsistent and incompatible with sections 22 and 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

According to SERAP, “unless the reliefs sought are urgently granted by this Honourable Court, the directive by the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed would be used to impermissibly restrict Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, access to information, media freedom, and victims’ right to justice and effective remedies.”

SERAP and PTCIJ are arguing that the failure by the government to withdraw the directive, violates sections 5[a] and [b], 147 and 148 of the Nigerian Constitution, Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1], and Oath of office [Seventh Schedule] of the Constitution.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP and PTCIJ by their lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “The NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed lack the power and authority to restrict the ability of journalists and broadcast stations to carry out their constitutional duties and to unlawfully impose penalties such as fines and other sanctions on any journalists and broadcast stations for reporting on details of terrorist attacks and victims in the country.”

“SERAP and PTCIJ together with several millions of Nigerians easily access information, news and form opinions on government policies through the daily newspaper reviews by journalists and broadcast stations in Nigeria.”

SERAP believes that while the NBC has the powers to make rules to enable it perform its statutory functions under section 2[1] [a] to [u] of NBC Act, such statutory powers ought to be exercised in line with the Nigerian Constitution, and the country’s international human rights obligations.

Google Agrees To Pay Italian Publishers For News

In this file photo taken on January 08, 2020, the Google logo at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Google on March 16, 2021, said it will halve the controversial fee it charges developers at its online shop for digital content tailored for Android-powered mobile devices./ AFP

 

 

Google announced on Wednesday it has signed licensing deals with numerous Italian media publishers to pay for news content, in the US tech giant’s latest move to tamp down media anger over lost advertising revenue.

It follows an agreement struck with some French publishers earlier in the year over “neighbouring rights”, which were introduced by an EU directive two years ago and call for payment for showing snippets of news content as part of internet searches.

Wednesday’s deal will give the Italian publishers access to the Google News Showcase programme, which sees it pay outlets for a selection of enriched content.

“Signed on an individual basis, these agreements represent an important step in Google’s relationship with Italian publishers by remunerating the publishers,” Google said in a statement.

Google News Showcase will be available in Italy in the coming months, it added.

Fabio Vaccarono, CEO of Google Italy, said “these agreements represent an important step forward and confirm Google’s commitment to Italian publishers”.

Among the publishers who signed deals were the RCS MediaGroup, Il Sole 24 Ore, Monrif, Citynews, Caltagirone Editore, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Libero, Il Foglio, Il Giornale and Il Tempo.

The head of Il Sole 24 Ore, Giuseppe Cerbone, said “remuneration for news, including the rights related to the distribution of digital content, is a front on which our publishing group is engaged on the front line”.

Urbano Cairo, CEO of the RCS MediaGroup, said “we are pleased to have signed this agreement, which governs the issue of related rights and acknowledges the importance of quality news and the prestige of our titles,” which include the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Neighbouring France was the first EU country to enact the “neighbouring rights” law, but Google initially refused to comply. However after turbulent negotiations, the search giant sealed a deal with certain French publishers in January.

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long seethed at Google’s failure to give them a cut of the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news search results.

Australia has aggressively pushed to force digital companies to pay for news content, and last month Google struck a deal to make “significant payments” to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

50 Journalists Killed In 2020 – Watchdog

 

Fifty journalists and media workers were killed in connection with their work in 2020, the majority in countries that are not at war, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Tuesday.

The figure shows an increase in the targeting of reporters investigating organised crime, corruption or environmental issues, the watchdog said.

It highlighted murders in Mexico, India, and Pakistan.

Eighty-four percent of those killed this year were “deliberately targeted” for their work, RSF said in its annual report, compared to 63 percent in 2019.

“For several years now, Reporters Without Borders has noted that investigative journalists are really in the crosshairs of states, or cartels,” said Pauline Ades-Mevel, RSF editor-in-chief.

Mexico was the deadliest country, with eight killed. “Links between drug traffickers and politicians remain, and journalists who dare to cover these or related issues continue to be the targets of barbaric murders,” said the report.

None of the Mexico killings had yet been punished, added RSF, which has compiled annual data on violence against journalists around the globe since 1995.

Five journalists were killed in war-torn Afghanistan, it said, noting an increase in targeted attacks on media workers in recent months even as peace talks between the government and Taliban are ongoing.

RSF also highlighted the case of Iranian opposition figure Ruhollah Zam, who ran a popular social media channel that rallied regime opponents, and who was executed in December.

His execution “confirms Iran’s record as a country that has officially put the most journalists to death in the past half-century,” it said.

Covid whistleblowers

Ades-Mevel said RSF had also noted the “developing” trend of violence against media workers covering protests, notably in the United States following the killing of George Floyd, and in France against a controversial new security law.

The total number of journalists killed in 2020 was lower than the 53 reported in 2019, although RSF said fewer journalists worked in the field this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first part of the report, published this month, RSF said it was concerned that measures imposed by governments to fight the pandemic had contributed to a “significant peak in violations of press freedom”.

It listed 387 jailed journalists, which it called “a historically high number”.

Fourteen of those had been arrested in connection with their coverage of the coronavirus crisis, it said.

On Monday Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who sent dispatches from Wuhan during the chaotic initial stages of the outbreak, was jailed for four years for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Chinese authorities have punished eight virus whistleblowers so far as they curb criticism of the government’s response to the outbreak.

AFP

China Hits US Media With New Rules In Tit-For-Tat Retaliation

This combination of file pictures created on April 4, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016 and China’s leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 5, 2012. Ed Jones, Paul J. RICHARDS / AFP

 

China tightened the rules on a number of US media outlets on Monday, in a move it said was “necessary and reciprocal” after Chinese journalists in America were hit with restrictions last week.

The world’s two largest economies, sparring over issues from trade and technology to human rights, have restricted visas for each other’s reporters, while China has expelled journalists.

After the US declared several more Chinese media outlets to be “foreign missions”, Beijing late Monday demanded that six US media groups report to the government about their staffing, finances and real estate.

They included the LA Times, Newsweek and the American Broadcasting Corporation.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a statement that the requirements were “legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense”.

“What the United States has done is exclusively targeting Chinese media organizations driven by the Cold War mentality and ideological basis,” Zhao added.

The moves are the latest in a series of tit-for-tat measures between Beijing and Washington.

Last week the US designated a further six Chinese media organisations as propaganda outlets that answer to the state.

It was the third round of US designations of Chinese outlets as foreign missions, which requires that they report details on their US-based staff and real estate transactions to the State Department.

The department earlier imposed rules on nine outlets including the official Xinhua news agency and China Global Television Network.

China has denounced the regulations and retaliated by expelling US citizens who work for major news organisations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

In May the US shortened the visa for Chinese journalists in the US to 90 days, and last month the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said Beijing was no longer renewing press credentials for US media employees in the country.

AFP

Media Must Rise To The Challenge Of Fake News – Gbajabiamila

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaking at a meeting in Abuja.

 

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on the media to rise to the challenge of fake news in Nigeria.

He believes this is important, especially as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic and fake news will not do the country any good.

Gbajabiamila made the call in a statement on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.

He urged media practitioners to resist every temptation that would make them promote reportage that could be seen as anti-people.

READ ALSO: Nasarawa Assembly Member Dies Of COVID-19

“The choice is ours: either to make our country great through good reportage and analysis of issues, or to allow fake news and, in many cases, flagrant falsehood to take over the space,” the speaker said.

He added, “At this age of social/online media, the onus is on the real journalists to make a difference. But I believe that the Nigerian media would not do anything that will take us backward.

“I also want to believe that media practitioners in the country are ever committed to seeing the country move forward.”

Gbajabiamila lauded the doggedness of the media in reporting and helping in finding solutions to the challenges facing Nigeria over the years.

He noted that although the Nigerian media has contributed a lot in stabilising the country, it would not be out of place to call on media practitioners to be more factual about their reportage of activities in the society with a view to promoting development.

Commenting on this year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day – ‘Journalism Without Fear or Favour,’ the speaker said no country would thrive if the media spreads falsehood.

He asked the media to support the government in its drive to make a meaningful impact in the country, as well as call the same government to order where necessary.

“We must show patriotism in our dealings as media men and women. We must fight fake news, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

“I also wish to pay tribute to journalists who have been working hard at the frontline of reporting this pandemic at great personal cost,” Gbajabiamila said.

Buhari Praises Nigerian Media Amid COVID-19 Fight

President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the nation on April 28, 2020,

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday lauded the Nigerian media for its efforts in keeping people informed and educated amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The President’s comment was contained in a statement released by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated every May 3.

“We cannot overemphasize the role of the media in keeping people informed and educated on the pernicious virus, which has no friend or foe,” the President was quoted as saying in the statement.

“It simply seeks to mow down anyone and everyone in its path, and public awareness is very important, lest we become like sitting ducks. The media are doing this quite effectively.”

He charged the media further to continue its good work, “till we get to safe harbour, when the world, and our country are finally free of this greatest health challenge in recent history.”

Adesina’s statement also revealed that the President reflected on the World Press Freedom Day 2020 theme: ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.’

Nigeria, the President believes, has a very unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news, purveyed by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant.

“They don’t mean well for us, and no country can afford to close its eyes to the evil disinformation can cause,” the President said.

“In a plural polity like ours, it has the potential to rupture relationships, sow seeds of discord, and set on the path of destabilisation.

“When fake and hate news are added unabashedly, it can only signpost doom.

“I urge the Press to use the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to see how this can be vigorously tackled.”

Meanwhile, President Buhari pledged a re-commitment to the ideals of freedom of the press, noting that democracy thrives better in an atmosphere of transparency, as opposed to opacity.

“We appreciate the cooperation we have enjoyed from the media in tackling the coronavirus, and look forward to same, post COVID-19, when all hands must be on deck to repair the damages done to our economic and social lives,“ he said.

China Slams ‘Unacceptable’ US Tightening Rules On State Media

Tense Future For US-China Ties, With Or Without Trade Deal
This file picture taken on November 6, 2018 shows a Chinese and US flag at a booth during the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. JOHANNES EISELE / AFP

 

Beijing on Wednesday slammed Washington’s decision to tighten rules on Chinese state media organisations in the US and classify them as foreign missions, saying it was “unreasonable and unacceptable.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: China Arrests President Xi’s Critic

“The United States has always advertised freedom of the press, but it interferes with and obstructs the normal operation of Chinese media in the United States,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing, warning: “We reserve the right to respond further to this matter.”

BBC Boss Tony Hall To Step Down In Six Months

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2018 Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall is seen waiting to greet Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as the royal couple visit BBC Broadcasting House in London on November 15, 2018.BEN STANSALL /POOL/ AFP

 

 

Embattled BBC boss Tony Hall will step down in six months’ time, he told staff on Monday, as the British broadcaster grapples with a damaging equal-pay ruling and scrutiny over funding.

“I will give my all to this organisation for the next six months… but in the summer I’ll step down as your Director-General,” he told staff in a group email.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first.”

Hall took up his post in 2013, tasked with restoring the reputation of the world’s biggest broadcaster after presenter Jimmy Savile was exposed as one of Britain’s most prolific child-sex offenders following his death.

But the corporation now faces the fallout of an equal-pay ruling in which an employment tribunal ruled it discriminated against female presenter Samira Ahmed, paying her one sixth of the amount given to Jeremy Vine for hosting a similar show.

The ruling opens the door to many other claims and could end up costing the corporation many millions of pounds.

The BBC is also facing pressure from Britain’s new government headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which accuses it of bias in reporting in the recent general election.

Hall rebuffed the claims in his parting email, saying: “In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth.”

The government has previously committed to maintain the licence fee model until 2027. A standard licence costs each British household just over £154 ($202, 182 euros) a year.

In the last financial year to April 30, the BBC received £3.7 billion in funding from the licence fee — an enviable revenue stream in tough economic times for media companies.

The prime minister has said that “you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense”.

“How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels,” he asked, highlighting the challenge for the incoming boss.

Chairman of the BBC David Clementi called Hall “an inspirational creative leader, within the UK and around the globe”.

“Tony has led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who meets him,” he said.

Hall, 68, is a former head of BBC news but spent more than a decade as chief executive of the Royal Opera House before returning to the broadcaster as director general.

The BBC said it would begin searching for a successor “within the next few weeks.”

Iran Claims 80 Americans Killed By Missiles

Screenshot of missiles fired at an Iraq military bases used by US Troops. AFP

 

Iranian state television claimed that Wednesday missile strikes on bases in Iraq killed 80 Americans, in a report citing what it called an informed Revolutionary Guards source.

Iran launched 22 missiles overnight at the Iraqi bases used by US and other US-led coalition troops, the Iraqi army said.

“At least 80 American military (personnel) were killed in this attack,” the state television website reported.

In addition, it said, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other military equipment had been severely damaged in the attack.

READ ALSO: Trump Says ‘All Is Well’ After Iranian Missiles Target US Troops

The Revolutionary Guards source said at least 140 targets of the US and their allies had been identified in the region and would be attacked “if the Americans commit any kind of mistake again”.

The source said 15 missiles hit Ain Al-Assad base and none was intercepted by “radars of America’s terrorist army”.

It was the first action of Iran’s promised revenge for the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

As ‘Streaming Wars’ Rage, Social Networks Create Their Own TV Series

 

Even as Disney, HBO and Apple lavish billions on content to gatecrash TV streaming wars, social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are creating their own original shows to get their piece of the advertising pie.

Historically, these three social networks are better known for hosting user-generated content.

But in recent years, each has invested in scripted programming which is free to view — unlike the streaming giants, who charge subscriptions.

At one stage, YouTube planned to charge for shows such as “Karate Kid” spinoff “Cobra Kai” and Generation Z comedy “Liza on Demand” using its premium service. But it backtracked this year.

Free access “gives advertisers more opportunities to engage with a broader audience … and align with top Hollywood talent and YouTube creators,” the company said in May.

For YouTube, which has at times been condemned for the questionable content posted by users, offering high-quality series with production values matching conventional television also burnishes its reputation.

Quality not quantity

Mark Beal, a Rutgers professor who wrote a book (“Decoding Gen Z”) on the generation born since the mid-1990s, said young people “do not respond to traditional advertising.”

But they may be more receptive to branding tied to original content on platforms such as YouTube, he said.

Still, after its ambitious burst of content, YouTube has slowed down its original production, scrapping multiple new and existing programs to focus on a few successful shows.

Quality not quantity also appears to be Facebook’s strategy on scripted shows.

In mid-October, it released “Limetown,” a web drama starring Jessica Biel based on a popular podcast of the same name.

In addition to boosting the social network’s image with prestige content, the show helps drive its Facebook Watch video platform.

Both “Limetown” and Elizabeth Olsen-starring flagship show “Sorry for Your Loss” benefit from and drive interaction among Facebook’s nearly 2.5 billion monthly users.

“That, to me, is the most exciting part,” Michelle Purple, co-producer of “Limetown,” said at the Toronto film festival in September.

“From week to week, audiences can have their water cooler moment together and talk about what happened, and what they think is going to happen.”

“Sorry for Your Loss” tackles themes of grief, and moderators are on hand to offer online psychological support for users seeking help.

Both dramas are dark in tone and intended for older audiences, reflecting Facebook’s demographic compared to younger platforms, such as Snapchat and TikTok.

Smartphone dominance

While Snapchat also produces fictional programming to increase user interactions and time spent on its platform, it does so in its own distinctive way.

Episodes are typically only a few minutes long, shot at a frantic pace with flashy visual effects, and are filmed vertically to suit smartphone viewing.

And unlike YouTube and Facebook, Snapchat is not skimping on quantity.

In April, it announced six brand new scripted shows, followed by a further three in September, on top of those already available including sorority hacking comedy “Kappa Crypto” and supernatural mystery “The Dead Girls Detective Agency.”

Though a long way from the $15 million per episode Apple TV+ is throwing at flagship series “The Morning Show,” parent company Snap is still happy to spend up to $50,000 per episode, according to media website Digiday.

“Mobile is now the dominant medium for telling stories and consuming content,” said Snapchat original content head Sean Mills at a summit in April.

“This transformation is creating massive new opportunities.”

AFP

We Did Not Shut Out The Press From Legislative Business – Lawan

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Monday that it was share misrepresentation of fact to say that journalists were not allowed to cover the budget defence sessions going on at the National Assembly.

Lawan was reacting to report published in some dailies last week that the media were shut out of the coverage of the budget defence at the various Senate committees.

“There is no shut out of the press from what we do,” Lawan told reporters.

“We need the press to tell Nigerians what we are doing. You (journalists) are our friends. That was a misunderstanding (of what happened),” Lawan said.

The Senate President said it should be expected that journalists, at some point, may be excused from such meetings when sensitive issues that bother on national security are being discussed.

“I want to assure Nigerians that whatever we do in this Senate and indeed in this National Assembly is in the best interest of Nigeria. We will not compromise on anything as far as the national interest is concerned,” Lawan said.

White House Condemns Video Of Trump Attacking Media

 

The White House on Monday condemned a video depicting a fake President Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media figures and political opponents that was shown at a conference for his supporters.

In the internet meme — taken from a scene in the 2014 spy comedy “Kingsman: The Secret Service” — the president’s head is superimposed on a man opening fire on people whose faces have been replaced with the logos of media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post and NBC TV.

“The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet.

During the rampage inside the “Church of Fake News,” the Trump character strikes the late senator John McCain on the back of the neck and torches the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential rival.

He throws Republican senator Mitt Romney to the ground and strikes former president Barack Obama in the back and slams him against a wall.

The organizer of last week’s three-day “American Priority” event — which was held at the president’s Trump National Doral Miami resort — said the clip was part of a “meme exhibit.”

The New York Times reported that the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis were among the scheduled speakers.

“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech,” Alex Phillips told The New York Times.

 ‘Endorsement of violence’ 

CNN wrote on Twitter: “This is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining, but it is by far and away the worst.”

The network called on the White House to denounce the clip, saying “anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association also called on Trump to denounce the meme.

“At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church,” tweeted Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke.

The former Texas congressman noted that Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc was jailed last year to CNN and prominent Democrats, while only two days ago a shooter opened fire on a wedding in a small town church in New Hampshire.

“This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed,” he said.

Media organizations have come under regular verbal attack from Trump and his supporters.

At rallies, the US president repeatedly encourages the crowd to boo and heckle journalists covering the event, calling them “fake news” and “enemy of the people.”

Trump has previously tweeted a roughly edited video clip of him attacking a wrestler whose head had been superimposed with a CNN logo.

AFP