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Media sustainability crucial to democracy, Editors urges FG

The conference emphasized that media sustainability is crucial to democracy and economic growth. photo: Radio Nigeria archive

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) after its four-day annual conference over the weekend in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom state promises to support economic policies of Federal Government.

In light of this, the Nigerian professional body of editors urged the federal government to take immediate action to alleviate the overwhelming anxiety that Nigerians are experiencing.

According to NGE, this should target rising prices for goods and services, declining purchasing power, depreciating currency, unstable exchange rates, illiquidity in the foreign exchange market, high interest rates, high trade costs, rising production costs, rising energy costs, slumping industrial capacity utilization, and profit margin erosion.

Publishers, media executives, and senior editors from print, electronic, and online media houses across the country attended the conference, which urged the government at all levels to take concrete steps to mitigate the immediate effects of Nigerians’ sacrifices towards economic recovery.

Communiqué on economic growth

In a communiqué signed on Monday by the General Secretary, Dr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren, and the President of the NGE, Eze Anaba, the editors stated that the federal government has a significant and unique role to play in the sustainability of the media in the nation, given the critical role that the media plays in advancing democracy and economic growth.

The conference recommended that the federal government adopt a global bargaining code through legislation, in line with other ongoing global trends. This will force Tech platforms, such as Google, Facebook, and others, to negotiate payment to local news media outlets for using their content.

The bargaining code allows publishers to collectively bargain without violating antitrust laws; requires tech platforms to negotiate with publishers for the use of news snippets; also requires them to pay licensing fees to publishers; and taxes digital advertising and uses the revenue to subsidise news outlets.

The EU, US, Canada, India, Brazil, Australia and others have since adopted their own media bargaining code through various Acts to compel big tech to pay for news they don’t produce but use and sell; has been gaining global support since Australia took the bull by the horns.

FG to strengthen National Broadcasting Commission

The conference, which also discussed the state of broadcast sector in Nigeria, urged the federal government to strengthen the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the regulatory body of broadcasting.

It also states that the National Assembly should amend the NBC Act to make it an autonomous body that will report solely to the National Assembly, and not the Minister of Information.

‘’Such independence of operation, devoid of arbitrary government intervention, will create a better sense of professionalism in the industry. Instead of always emerging from obscurity to bare its fangs at media organizations, the NBC and electronic media organization should have regular round-tables on issues of mutual interests’’, the communique added.

The conference said that both the NBC and the electronic media organizations are currently operating a cat and dog relationship, where the NBC only sets traps for media houses before pouncing on them, instead of creating and sustaining a harmonious relationship through exchange of ideas, for the good of the industry.

On freedom of the press, the conference observed that for every right, there are corresponding responsibilities; and that journalists must carefully navigate the marauding laws against the industry with circumspection, by adhering to journalism’s professional Code of Ethics.

According to the conference, In the course of holding government accountable in line with Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), journalists should not shy away from telling the truth, as criticism is not synonymous with sedition, and public officials must imbibe certain democratic norms, which include openness towards criticisms.

While urging government to do more in the security sector to ensure safety of lives and property, the conference also challenged media houses to lead the campaign against every situation that is out to undermine the security of the country, and advised media houses to sustain the campaign to reduce insecurity in the country.

Stimulating Economic Growth Through Technology

With a theme ‘’Stimulating Economic Growth, Technological Advancement: Role of the Media’’, the conference was declared open by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was represented by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagu.

The event was attended by National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno; the Conference Chairman and Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Uncle Sam Amuka; former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, and former Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine, Ray Ekpu

Various papers were presented by experts, covering all aspects of the programme, including goodwill messages..

Reporting by Jennifer Ogor; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare