Mr Femi Adesina, The Sun’s Editor-in-Chief, four months after publishing a hate advert sponsored by Gov. Ayo Fayose on Gen. Buhari has explained why his publication, The Sun newspaper published it. According to him, the owner of a media house has a ‘major’ influence in its publication.
While speaking during this year’s World Press Freedom Day in Lagos, on the topic ‘Influence of Media Owners on Fair and Balanced Reporting and Commentaries in 2015 Election,’Mr Adesina explained why he approved the hate advert and even said if Nigerians had seen the original advert sent to him, he wondered how they would have reacted, explaining that the one published by them was a toned-down version. Hear him;
“That hate advert, two newspapers published it, The Sun and The Punch.”
“Now you can ask me: why did we publish? That advert came on a Sunday, January 18th, and we published it on January 19th. The advert that was eventually published had been watered down considerably. I came back from church, I opened my system and when I saw it I screamed.
“It had been sent to me from the office to clear for publication. When I saw it I screamed. I then called Bolaji Tunji, our Executive Director, Special Services, ‘Can we publish this and Nigeria will not burn?’ Then we began to discuss and we began to tone it down. We removed so many things from that advert. And what eventually appeared on January 19th was the toned-down version.
“So if we had published the original…. So it was the toned-down version that I approved that they eventually sent to The Punch that appeared the next day.”
Mr. Adesina explained that he is widely regarded as an “APC man” although he does not belong to the party, and that rejecting the advert would have meant trouble from Orji Uzor Kalu, the newspaper’s proprietor and a founding member of the PDP.
“Now but if you ask me, why did I approve that advert?”
“I knew that the toned-down version was still bad enough. But don’t forget the ownership of my newspaper. A PDP chieftain owns the newspaper.
“If I had rejected that advert, they would have told my publisher that this APC man has denied your paper revenue. He has rejected this advert because he doesn’t like Jonathan.
“So, after we watered it down, we decided to take it. Punch also took it. But we know the uproar that still came after it. But I tell you, if you see the original of that advert, you would still then have to commend the media.
“So ownership will always matter where press freedom is concerned. There is no freedom without boundaries and the owners will always constitute the boundary,” he said.