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Senate Bars 7 TV Stations From Covering Its Proceedings

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The Senate has barred at least 7 Television Stations in the country from covering its proceedings in the chamber, reducing the number of TV-stations accredited to 5.

Those accredited are Africa Independent Television (AIT), Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Channels Television, Television Continental (TVC) and Silverbird TV.

This is coming barely 24 hours after the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, addressed the Press Corps, to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day, assuring them of harmonious working relationship.

A similar move was taken in January, when the number of cameramen and photo-journalists covering the Senate were pruned down from 40 to 13.

Officials have said the arrangement was to decongest the Senate and establish an atmosphere of orderliness in the chamber.

This, however, did not sit well with the Press Corps, which quickly issued a statement signed by its Chairman, Cosmos Ekpunobi, explaining how the move by the Senate “precipitated cameramen to boycott proceedings on Thursday; thereby blanking out the Senate on a day lawmakers failed to pass the 2017 budget”.

The journalists staged the walkout, alleging that the policy was another step to gag TV stations covering the red chamber.

They believe it was all part of a grand plan to eventually kick them out and then pave way for National Assembly television station, which has gulped billions to take over with the sole rights to cover the plenary and send feeds to other TV stations.

The leadership of the Press Corps had on Wednesday met with the Clerk of the Senate with a view to iron out the issue including alleged misconduct by cameramen.

In that meeting, the leadership of the Senate Press Corps accepted to call erring members to order.

The Press Corps said it was, therefore, shocked at the action of the Senate, who right in the middle of dialogue to resolve the matter, went ahead to bar some TV Stations from covering its plenary sessions.

Feelers among the Press Corp members also pointed accusing fingers on the Senate Committee Chairman on Media, Abdullahi Sabi, whom some accused of working against the interest of journalists at the National Assembly.

There seemed to be concerted agreement among the Correspondents, both Electronic and Print Media, to continue to boycott plenaries, until the issue is resolved.

Already, the online and social media have been permanently yanked off from the National Assembly Press Corps.

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