Posted June 11, 2021 5:17 pm by

LagosNigeria, June 11 – A sign on the newsroom wall at the Nigerian broadcaster News Central spells out the channel’s motto: No to mediocrity and disinformation.

For News Central’s dozens of journalists, most of them young reporters under 40, that part of the job just got more difficult after the government suspended Twitter.

Inside the channel in Lagos financial district, the newsroom is humming with journalists busy editing news and presenters finishing make-up for the studio.

Launched just three years ago and now accessible via satellite, News Central has plans to become the largest pan-African chain for continuous news broadcasts.

But last week’s decision by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to ban Twitter in Africa’s most populous country, was a blow to News Central’s big ambitions.

The United Nations, foreign capitals from Washington to London and rights groups have all condemned the ban as an threat to freedom of expression.

On Monday, Nigeria’s broadcast regulator took a step further, ordering television and radio channels to suspend their Twitter accounts and stop using the social media giant for news, branding its use as “unpatriotic.”

Even using a VPN to access the platform would lead to investigation and possible suspension of broadcast licenses.

For a young channel like News Central, expanding but still fighting for its place in the market, the Twitter ban is a setback.

“We largely depend on the referrals we get from Twitter to attract to our YouTube Channel, and to our channel on the satellite StarTimes,” Oladayo Martins, head of digital for News Central told AFP.

“The last report shows a drop of 40 percent of our viewers in the past five days. We are a pan-African channel, but driven mostly by the Nigerian youth.”

 

 

– Army of the young –

 

In Africa’s largest economy, three quarters of the population of 200 million are younger than 24 — a generation that is also hyper-connected to social media.

Young activists turned to Twitter last year to organise the #EndSARS protests against police brutality that eventually grew into the largest demonstrations in Nigeria’s modern history before they were repressed.

For broadcasters, social media is more than an essential tool.

“We show our lives on Facebook, we show our lives on Instagram, but when we want to have a conversation or when we want to debate social issues, we use Twitter,” said Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun, the head of programming.

One of the chain’s flagship programmes, NC Trendz, discusses hot topics on the Web with its trends and Read More…