Challenges of Television Broadcasting in a Democratic Dispensation
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The primary purpose of the study is to:
- To identify the challenges confronting television broadcasting in Nigeria.
- To examine the role of television broadcasting in the democratic dispensation.
- To examine the effect of these challenges on television broadcasting in Nigeria.
- To examine the relationship between television broadcasting and sustainable democracy.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Our focus in this chapter is to critically examine relevant literature that would assist in explaining the research problem and furthermore recognize the efforts of scholars who had previously contributed immensely to similar research. The chapter intends to deepen the understanding of the study and close the perceived gaps.
Precisely, the chapter will be considered in three sub-headings:
- Conceptual Framework
- Theoretical Framework
- Empirical framework
EMERGENCE OF TELEVISION BROADCASTING IN NIGERIA:
The emergence of television broadcasting in Nigeria was as a result of political rivalry and a reaction against suppression of the freedom of expression. Historical accounts by UmeNwagbo (1979) and Aliede (2003) has it that in 1953, the Action Group (AG) political party, which controlled the Western Nigerian Region and was headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, through one of its representatives in the legislative house, Chief Anthony Enahoro, moved a motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1956. The party also declared that the Macpherson Constitution was unworkable. The debate generated a lot of heat that the members of the AG had to walk out of the legislative house. The same day, the Governor-General, Sir John Macpherson, went to the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS), a radio station established by the Central Government in 1951, and made a nation-wide broadcast accusing AG (which was an opposition political party) and its leader, Chief Awolowo, of “perfidy” explained as an attempt to destabilize his government. In a reaction, Chief Awolowo requested from the Director General of NBS air time to respond to the accusation against him and his party by the Governor-General. The Director General referred the request to the Secretary of the Central Government who eventually turned it down (Akinfeleye, 2003). With this refusal of the right to reply, the AG commenced a move to come up with a legislation to empower regional governments to establish and own broadcast stations. This move materialized, and on October 31, 1959, the Western Regional Government established the first television station in Nigeria and black Africa as a whole. The station, called Western Nigeria Television (WNTV), was established at Ibadan, but the signals covered the huge commercial city of Lagos. The heated political climate at the time presented a situation of political rivalry among the three major regions in the country – Western Region, Eastern Region and Northern Region. Also, NBS, which became Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) on October 1956, did not receive the favour of the three regional governments, a factor that also contributed to its change of name and status from NBS to NBC so as to address concerns of regional governments too. A comment by the Minister of Information and Welfare in the Eastern Region, B.C. Okwu, is incisive. Okwu remarked: “NBC does what it likes… and although it exists here to serve the Eastern Region, its position is rather innocuous…” (cited in UmeNwagbo, 1979, p.820). Thus, on October 1 1960, the day Nigeria gained independence, the Eastern Region established its own broadcast station at Enugu called Eastern Nigeria Broadcast Service, the station had radio and television arms, the same thing done by the Western Region. The Northern Region came out with its own Radio-television Kaduna (RTVK) in March 1962. The next month in April 1962, the Federal Government began the Nigerian Television Service (NTS) Channel 10 in Lagos. Issues emerging from the foregoing are that abuse of the principle of equal opportunity and the political oppression by the Central Government necessitated the emergence of television broadcasting. Political rivalry among the three regional governments contributed significantly to the expansion of television broadcasting. This was clear with the establishment of more television stations immediately after the civil war in 1970. Each of the existing 12 states at that time established a television station. In principle, the main objective of each of the television stations was the facilitation of educational development. In practical terms, however, this was not the case. The stations became political tools for propaganda, as aptly noted by Aliede (2003, p33): ‘‘this goal (of facilitating education) was however not strictly pursued as politicians later diverted the medium for political and specifically propagandistic purpose. No wonder critics at the time saw investment in television as wasteful and ostentatious.’’ It was also a thing of pride and prestige for each of the 12 state governments to own a television station, which many of the states saw as a mark of political independence (Ukonu, 2006).
TELEVISION UNDER MILITARY RULE: PERFORMANCES AND CHALLENGES
Six years after Nigeria’s independence, exactly on 5th January, 1966, the military took over the administration of Nigeria through a coup d’état. Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military Head of State. A counter-coup took place just about six months later, precisely on 29th July, 1966, and major General Aguiyi Ironsi was not only overthrown but killed. LT. Col. Yakubu Gowon became the second military Head of State. Gowon ruled for nine years and was overthrown by Brigadier General Murtala Mohammed on July 29, 1975. Barley six months after, on 13th February, 1976, Brigadier General Mohammed was assassinated in an unsuccessful bloody counter-coup led by Lt. Col. Buka Suka Dimka. General Olusegun Obasanjo took over as the military Head of State to continue the government of Brigadier General Mohammed. General Obasanjo handed over power to a democratically elected civilian president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, on 1st October, 1979. Shagari’s civilian government lasted for only four years when the military, through a palace (bloodless) coup of 31st December, 1983, took over power again with Major General Mohammadu Buhari as the fifth military Head of State. Major General Buhari ruled for about two years and was overthrown on 27th August, 1995 in another coup d’état that brought in Major General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida as the sixth military Head of State. General Babangida ruled for eight years and was about to hand over power to a civilian government, when crisis over the June 12, 1993 presidential election made him to abandon the hand over idea. As the crisis continued, General Babangida who was seen as part of the crisis decided to “step aside” and hand over power to an unelected civilian, Chief Earnest Shonekan, in an arrangement called Interim National Government (ING). That was on 26th August, 1993. Three months later, Chief Shonekan, in what appeared like a palace coup, handed over power to General Sani Abacha on 17th November, 1993. General Abacha died in office on 8th June, 1998 while in the process of transforming himself into a civilian president. Lieutenant General Abdulsalami Abubakar took over and organized a transition to civil rule programme that handed over power to the civilian government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on 29th May, 1999. Out of the 54 years of Nigeria’s independence (1960-2014) the military ruled for 29 years or 53.7 percent. Policy actions and inactions of the various military governments made some impact (positive and negative) on the development and use of television for democratic governance. We take the negative impact first. In this regard, mention is made of the abuse of television broadcasting for selfish individual and group political interests. General Yakubu Gowon’s military administration divided Nigeria into 12 states in 1967 and later 19 in 1975. These state creation exercises introduced “statism,” a new kind of sectional consciousness similar to regionalism consciousness which existed before the first military take over. Statism created fierce political rivalry among the 12 and later 19 states. This rivalry witnessed each state establishing its own television station for selfish political interest (Umeh, 1989). One factor that favoured the establishment of television stations by the various state governments was the oil boom, as explained by Umeh (1983, p. 58): ‘the oil wealth which the nation enjoyed at the time eliminated the fear of financial constraints for most of these hastily conjectured and planned development ventures.” Apart for television, other ventures states went into establishing on a competitive basis were universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, teaching hospitals, radio stations and newspaper houses (Adegbokun, 1983). What obtained was quantity and not quality, as the stations, in the words of Akinfeleye (2003, p. 50), were “instruments of oppression, disunity, political vendetta, tools for coups promotions, frame ups, frame down etc and baseless propaganda particularly during the Babangida and Abacha regimes.” To buttress Akinfeleye’s assertion, the saga of Abacha campaign on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to succeed himself in office readily comes to mind. General Sani Abacha wanted to transform himself from a military Head of State to a civilian President. He used NTA to promote this idea. NTA ran four promotional advertisements in this regard frequently and consistently free of charge. The promotions were;
(1) He who the Cap Fits (meaning Abacha was the only one whom the cap to rule Nigeria as a presidency fitted), (2) The Two Million Man March (a march in support of Abacha’s presidency),
(3) The Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha, and (
4) The Magic Key (that Abacha was the magic key to open doors for Nigeria’s development).
Television broadcasting under the military administration of General Babangida contributed to threaten the unity of Nigeria, following the June 12, 1993 political impasse. The country was polarized along North-South divide; with many of those from Northern Nigeria supporting the cancellation of the presidential election and those from Southern Nigeria not.NTA was partly responsible for this polarity. Femi Kusa, a former Director of Publications of Guardian Newspapers Limited, Nigeria, buttresses this point. Kusa said he stopped watching NTA during that period, and told the story of his nine year old boy who asked his mother whether there was going to be war. Asked where he got this horrible impression from, the boy replied that he had been watching NTA a lot and the images that came through indicted a war situation (Orhewere & Kur, 2003). Another challenge of television broadcasting under the military was that certain actions of the military government concerning the organisation of the television industry inhibited media pluralism. This was the case with the establishment of NTA. The military government of General Obasanjo, through Decree No. 24 of 1977, established the NTA, giving it retrospective effect to April 1976. The Decree gave NTA the exclusive right for television broadcasting in Nigeria. NTA took over 10 television stations and established more. The argument goes that having the entire television stations in the country under the management of NTA, owned and controlled by the federal government is against the principles of media pluralism, understood beyond mere availability of numerous media establishments. Media pluralism in earnest should be understood as the free expression of diverse views from diverse class, ethnic, geographical, religious, occupational, and other socio-economic groups. This is made possible with horizontal ownership and operation of media channels of communication (Kur, 2007). By having the entire television broadcasting in the country controlled and managed by one agency (NTA), some voices were shut as it became clear with the civilian administration that inherited the arrangement (discussed below). One of the reasons given by the federal government for the takeover of television stations in the country by NTA bordered on the need to safeguard national unity (Umeh, 1989). However, this policy ended up threatening national unity, as noted by Akinfeleye (2003, p. 50) that “takeover of all television stations in Nigeria by the military government under the pretence of national unity… almost led to national disunity.” One of the most disturbing issues in the Nigeria mass media industry is the commercialization of news. This is a practice whereby media organizations raise revenue to sustain their operations by charging fees for news reports they should normally carry free. This unethical practice is the case in virtually all television and radio stations in Nigeria. It is a serious threat to freedom of expression. The military government of General Ibrahim Babangida officially started the practice, when in 1992 it promulgated Decree No. 38, which established National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate the broadcast industry (Adaja, 2011). This Decree ushered in the deregulation of the broadcast industry. The deregulation was within the policy direction of the government, which embraced and supported World Bank/ IMF-driven privatization of public enterprises on debtor nations. Onoja (2009) reminds us that it was the Technical Committee on Privatization and Commercialization (TCPC) of some federal government agencies that, in 1988, listed NTA and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) among the federal government enterprises that were to be partially commercialized. The two broadcast stations became partially commercialized in July 1992, after the federal government through the TCPC signed performance bonds with the two stations. From this moment, the concept “Let Them Pay” (LTP) became very alive in broadcast stations. The concept of commercial news also became popular. Though this practice is against provisions of the NBC Code, it has gained momentum, with the regulatory agencies unable to stop it. Section 4.3.11 of the 2006 revised NBC Code maintains that selling of news so as to raise money and improve the financial standing of broadcast stations encourages partisanship and does not give equal access to people to express their views freely. It compromises standards and marginalizes a majority of those who cannot afford to pay. It does not provide a level playing ground, it is against the principle of social justice, and it short-charges the electorate. All these are a threat to the democratization process.
In this chapter, we described the research procedure for this study. A research methodology is a research process adopted or employed to systematically and scientifically present the results of a study to the research audience viz. a vis, the study beneficiaries.
Research designs are perceived to be an overall strategy adopted by the researcher whereby different components of the study are integrated in a logical manner to effectively address a research problem. In this study, the researcher employed the survey research design. This is due to the nature of the study whereby the opinion and views of people are sampled. According to Singleton & Straits, (2009), Survey research can use quantitative research strategies (e.g., using questionnaires with numerically rated items), qualitative research strategies (e.g., using open-ended questions), or both strategies (i.e., mixed methods). As it is often used to describe and explore human behaviour, surveys are therefore frequently used in social and psychological research.
POPULATION OF THE STUDY
According to Udoyen (2019), a study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitute of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description.
This study was carried out to examine the challenges of television broadcasting in a democratic dispensation , using Nigeria television authority( NTA ) Jos, Plateau State as a case study. Staff of NTA Jos form the population of the study.
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
This chapter presents the analysis of data derived through the questionnaire and key informant interview administered on the respondents in the study area. The analysis and interpretation were derived from the findings of the study. The data analysis depicts the simple frequency and percentage of the respondents as well as interpretation of the information gathered. A total of thirty-six (36) questionnaires were administered to respondents of which only thirty (30) were returned and validated. This was due to irregular, incomplete and inappropriate responses to some questionnaire. For this study a total of 30 was validated for the analysis.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
In this study, our focus was to examine the challenges of television broadcasting in a democratic dispensation using the Nigerian television authority(NTA) Jos as a case study. The study specifically was aimed at highlighting the challenges confronting television broadcasting in Nigeria. Also, the study examine the role of television broadcasting in the democratic dispensation. Furthermore, the study examine the effect of these challenges on television broadcasting in Nigeria. Lastly, the study examine the relationship between television broadcasting and sustainable democracy. A total of 30 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are drawn from staff of Nigeria television authority.
Based on the finding of this study, the following conclusions were made:
- harsh economic terrain is one of the challenges facing television broadcasting of Nigeria
- Another challenges facing television broadcasting in Nigeria is increased news commercialization
- impediment to the process of driving national development, were among the problems facing television broadcasting in Nigeria.
Based on the responses obtained, the researcher proffers the following recommendations:
- Government at every level should hands off ownership and control of television broadcast stations. Operating television broadcasting should be the affair and concern of the private sector. This should be done through legislation and amendment of the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution which gives government a hand in the running of radio and television broadcasting.
- The National Broadcasting Commission should be made by law to be an independent
body, free from executive control. Just as obtains in the United Kingdom with the British Broadcasting Bill of 1989, there should be separate regulators for private broadcasting and public broadcasting.
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