POLITICAL INTERFERENCE AND REGULATORY ROLE OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION IN NIGERIA

POLITICAL INTERFERENCE AND REGULATORY ROLE OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The deregulation of the broadcast media in 1992 democratised the media space and led to the establishment of the  National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate the Broadcast sector. NBC is the only body empowered to process and recommend broadcast licence for the President’s approval, through the Minister of Information. The lopsided approval of broadcast licence to political elite who are members of the ruling party has fuelled criticism among public analysts that broadcast media licence is being used for political patronage. This study examined the political interference and how the regulatory role of the NBC, affects the broadcasting industry in Nigeria.

The research design is a survey. The population was 1,558 broadcasters in the public and private broadcast media organisations as well as NBC officials in Lagos Nigeria. Using the criterion of professional experience of at least 15 years practice, purposive sampling was adopted in selecting senior Journalists in 8 public and private media organisations and 7 senior officials of the NBC. Consequently, 55 Key informants were interviewed from 8 public, private broadcast media organisations and NBC. The instrument was an interview guide. The Interviews from respondents were transcribed and sent via emails to ensure that responses were true reflections of their views as validity. The data were transcribed, content-analysed and thematically grouped based on research questions.

Findings from respondents revealed that the constitution of Nigeria and the NBC Act give room for political interference in the operations of the NBC. The constitution and the Act cover the powers of the President to grant broadcast licence while the Minister of Information controls the broadcasting regulatory agency. The study also reveals that causes of political interference are the power of the President to appoint the Director General for NBC , and the Minister of Information controls the operations of NBC as a parastaltal. The value addition of broadcast media as instrument for social, economic and political mobilisation attracted the interest of politicians to apply for broadcast licence. The study equally revealed that the effects of political interference were noticed in poor quality broadcasting, inadequate professionalism and lack of independence of the regulator.

The study concluded that effectiveness of the regulatory role of the NBC was inhibited by the provisions of the Constitution that enabled political interference. The study recommended the review of the Constitution, NBC Act, Broadcasting Code and the establishment of an Independent Media Commission to be managed by media stakeholders. 

Keywords:     Political interference, NBC, Broadcast licence, Broadcast media, Media stakeholders, Independent Media Commission