Media Censorship And The Breach Of Freedom Of Expresss

An interview piece on Media SENSORSHIP and the breach of freedom of Expression.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria grants the Nigerian people freedom of expression. But the constitution's protections are not absolute, leading to Supreme Court cases involving the question and search for the limits on the right to freedom of expression. In this interview, Lawrence E. Paul has a heart-to-heart with veteran broadcaster and Head of Corporate Affairs Department, Edo Broadcasting Service, Benin City, Edo State, who Mrs. Jennifer Ngozi Aisuan, with classic sapience, shares an in-depth view on censorship and its correlation with the right to freedom of expression.

Excerpts.....

Q: *Has the media in Nigeria truly gained the trust of the people, and what is the reason for any persisting mistrust?*

A: That is indeed an interesting question, and I'll give you a twofold answer. Firstly I will say yes. I believe that the media in Nigeria has earned the trust of the people. This is because it's not surprising to learn that the media's self-defined mission of "holding the government accountable" has caused it to receive severe knocks, which it has taken in its stride and kept on moving. Reliable and dependable news analysis has come to assert itself as a defining feature of mainstream newsrooms all over the country. The news is much less deferential than it once was to institutions and people in power.

The media is more responsible, more accurate, and more informed than it has ever been before, and this has earned it more trust than ever with the populace. In the face of the severe economic problems afflicting daily newspapers, other leading dailies have continued, whenever possible, to pursue aggressive, analytical journalism. This places great responsibility on readers to discern for themselves the difference between what can be trusted as factual and what represents the reporter's judgment.

In my opinion, any persisting mistrust can be found in the understanding that a lot of people are going to distrust the media, particularly when their favorite politicians or the parties they identify with are critically appraised or openly confronted by journalistic investigation information, or opinion. What people don't like about the media is its implicit or explicit criticism of their heroes. It's just more comforting and, let's face it, more human to blame the messenger than to take critical reports seriously.

Furthermore, in cementing the public's trust, News organizations should try to explain themselves and communicate the difference between the news department and the editorial page (more than a quarter of Nigerians do not understand the distinction); to show that one is what the news is and the other is what a particular individual feels about the news.

Q: *Meaning of media censorship.*

A: Media Censorship in this regard is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information by any medium of media on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or even simply inconvenient.

The government and media organizations may engage in censorship. Other groups or institutions may propose and petition for censorship. When an individual such as an author or other creator engages in censorship of their own works or speech, it is referred to as self-censorship. It occurs in a variety of different media, including speech, books, music, films, and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the internet, for a variety of claimed reasons, including the very well-protected boundary of national security, to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech, to protect children or other vulnerable groups, to promote or restrict political or religious views, and to prevent slander and libel.

Q: *Does censorship by the press violate the constitutional right of freedom of expression?*

A: In Nigeria, the freedom of expression is protected by the Nigerian constitution, and the press will never violate or breach such a right.

Freedom of expression or freedom of speech or freedom of the press is a notion that "every person has the natural right to freely express themselves through any media and frontier without interference. This right, though somewhat restricted, constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. It is recognized by all the international, regional as well as domestic human rights instruments.

You must note that when there is freedom of expression, it must go hand in hand with freedom of the press. This is because the misconception that only the press express themselves is not accurate. Almost everyone does. But society has certainly justifiable yardsticks on what kind of expression can be viewed, heard, or published. For example, freedom of expression cannot give an individual the right to publish secrets about the military, such as where troops will be sent on a mission. Pornography is also censored by the media in Nigeria.

Q: *In the light of this, how does media censorship benefit society?*

A: The limits that have been placed in this nation as far as media, communication, and entertainment are concerned are slowly lifting away. We now have the freedom to believe, think and say what we want. However, don't you think there are some things that should be left unsaid? This is where the question about media censorship being of interest to society comes in, and this is when things that are allowed to be published, televised, or broadcasted are monitored by certain agencies and bodies set up by the government on the one hand and by the media source on the other hand.

I can give you a few quick examples. Media censorship helps save our children from violence. Censoring extreme violent material is beneficial, particularly among children. With access to all sorts of media made easier these days, younger generations can easily fall prey to this sort of content. Thus, censorship such as simple TV programming parental locks would allow them to use the web or watch TV without worrying about their minds being corrupted.

Another important advantage of media censorship is It keeps the negative impact of sex materials away from children. Sex is a serious topic that creates turmoil among people. Sexual acts, especially porn, would sometimes illustrate many unnatural and disturbing scenarios, and It will likely have a negative impact on children who might think it to be true. Hence, this topic, along with violence, should be restricted to people who appreciate and understand that all of those are deliberately produced, in this case, adults. Media censorship limits harmful advertisements to society. It is understandable that advertisements for products or services that are harmful to people's health care to be censored or, rather, limited. This will help prevent epidemics, such as alcohol addiction and obesity, which are increasingly becoming a concern for the population. Media censorship helps society by controlling hate. By controlling its output, media and the government can also control prejudice, racism, and untrue slandering of certain individuals, which might involve tribes, religions, companies, and even other countries.

Q: *How do the regulatory bodies/agencies keep up with the flood of content being released from different avenues available to the media now?*

A: The government created the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which was responsible for censoring the media, such as radio, television, and DVD. The Electronic media was predominantly privately owned, but the government was able to censor unwanted content through the NAN.

The National Film and Video Censors Board has replaced the NAN as the official schedule agency of the government. It is responsible for licensing filmmakers and reviewing their works accordingly to the following criteria: educational and entertainment value; national security sensitivity; avoidance of blasphemy, obscenity, and criminality; avoidance of provoking religious and racial confrontation; abstention from violence and corruption; and abstention from disrespecting African personalities.

Indeed, the concept of censorship as relating to society, and major social institutions in Nigeria are the family, church, and government. Censorship is meant to protect these institutions as any effect on any one of these would definitely affect the others because they go hand-in-hand. Though there are numerous challenges to censorship, it is recommended

therefore that it should be given priority, as the wrong information digested could cause a lot of havoc to the Nigerian society, and so is any other society in the world.

Unlike any other time, censorship is more needed now than ever before, especially with the internet in place and the concept of intellectual freedom gaining weight. It is not every information that is needed; thus, censorship, when carried out adequately, would help focus individuals' attention on necessary information rather than the volume of information. With censorship, the focus, therefore, shifts from quantity to quality of the information in the Nigerian society, thus helping the society to develop better and faster.

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