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APCON blows hot over offensive political adverts

By News Express on 23/01/2015

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The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has warned advertisers, their agents and media organisations to comply with relevant laws and regulations on political advertising, “especially during this critical period leading to the 2015 general elections,” or prepare to face sanctions.

The industry regulator handed down the warning in reaction to Monday’s distasteful advertisement by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, which he placed on the front pages of The PUNCH and Daily Sun, urging Nigerians not to vote for All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari as he is old and might die in office. The advert has attracted widespread condemnation but an unrepentant Fayose said he had no regret over it.  

Weighing in on the matter, APCON Registrar/Chief Executive, Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi, said in a statement issued late Wednesday in Lagos, a copy of which was made available to News Express: “Recent political advertisements published in some of the national newspapers and the controversies generated by such publications have made it expedient to appeal once more, to election candidates and their supporters, political advertising consultants and owners/managers of mass media organisations to exercise restraint and comply with relevant laws and regulations on political advertising, especially during this critical period leading to the 2015 general elections.

“A keen observer of electioneering campaign communications in recent times cannot but feel worried by the pedestrian, combative, provocative and insensitive messages, language and style of several of the campaign communications which portend grave danger for Nigeria's democratic process and national security.

“The tendency by marketers (in this case, political candidates and their supporters) to abuse their freedom of speech and engage in spurious promotional campaigns that exploit consumers and the public and sometimes undermine societal harmony and wellbeing, necessitate the enactment and

enforcement of various regulations to check the excesses of such marketers and protect the public from unsavoury effects of unwholesome communications.

“We are therefore constrained to remind political candidates, their supporters and

communication consultants, of mass media organisations of extant regulations on the design and publication/broadcast of political advertisements. These regulations require, among other things, that political advertisements;

• deal with issues (campaign manifestoes, promises, etc) and avoid negative reference to political opponents, other than criticism of their policies;

• avoid the use of foul or abusive language as well as false, distorted or unsubstantiated claims or misrepresentations of facts;

• should not exploit or incite ethnic, religious or other sectional interests;

• should clearly indicate the identity of the sponsor of the advertisements (anonymous or unidentifiable advertisers are not allowed to place advertisements in the media);

• Like every other form of advertisement, political advertisements are required to be submitted for pre-exposure approval by the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP).

“What we see today, is a clear manifestation of mindless abuse of freedom of speech and flagrant breach of these regulations which, if unchecked, is capable of plunging our country into an orgy of violence and anarchy.

“We are appalled that the publishers and managers of some of the national newspapers, have grossly compromised their patriotic and professional ethics to the lure and lucre of advertisement patronage by political candidates. They have brazenly abandoned their gate-keeping duties and

accepted all manner of insensitive, irresponsible and spurious advertisements in contravention of the nation's advertising regulations and in disregard of several preemptive engagements with APCON.

“Some of the newspapers have acted the ostrich, publishing editorial materials that pretend to support and promote issue-based and responsible political communications while at the same time, shamelessly publishing very provocative and desperately misleading advertisements.

“One is constrained to ask, ‘where does the loyalty of these media organisations lie? to the politicians who patronise them with unwholesome adverts or to the Nigerian people who are misled or incited by such advertisements and are thereby exposed to grave danger?’

We wish to once again warn media organisations against the consequences of publishing spurious advertisements in disregard of extant regulations, especially the pre-exposure approval by the ASP which seeks to prevent publication of all forms of unwholesome advertisements.

“We will be constrained to use the instrument of law enforcement agencies to forestall any tendency to plunge the country to avoidable anarchy through the irresponsible activities of political candidates, their supporters and consultants or the negligent self-serving actions of mass media organisations. We warn that the stability and peaceful democratic development of this country must not be subsumed under the personal ambitions of politicians or the mercantile interest of media owners.

•Photo shows APCON Registrar/Chief Executive, Kankarofi.

Source News Express

Posted 23/01/2015 12:45:04 PM

 

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