Political Advert: APCON demands compliance with relevant laws
THE Advertising Council of Nigeria (APCON) has called on 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 release by the Registrar of APCON, Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi noted that 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.
He further noted that 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 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, owners and managers of mass media organisations of extant regulations on the design and publication/broadcast of political advertisements.”
Providing an insight into the regulations require, he stated that political advertisements should deal with issues and avoid negative reference to political opponents, other than criticism of their policies.
The regulation also required avoiding the use of foul or abusive language as well as false, distorted or unsubstantiated claims or misrepresentations of facts, besides not exploiting or inciting ethnic, religious or other sectional interests.
The APCON boss stated that sponsor of the political advertisement should be clearly indicated as 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),” he added.
According to him, what is being done at present is a clear manifestation of mindless abuse of freedom of speech and flagrant breach of these regulations, which, if unchecked, is capable of plunging the country into an orgy of violence and anarchy.
Kankarofi observed 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.
He argued that 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 ostritch, 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.”
APCON warned that the stability and peaceful democratic development of the country must not be subsumed under the personal ambitions of politicians or the mercantile interest of media owners.