The Challenges Confronting Privately Owned Media Stations In A Democratic Dispensation In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Challenges Confronting Privately Owned Media Stations In A Democratic Dispensation In Nigeria


Abstract


This project work is mainly based on the theoretical and practical approach of the challenges confronting privately owned media stations in a democratic dispensation in Nigeria. In this work, the researcher tried to reevaluate two types of the media that is, government owned media like AIT Benin city station, with a view to recommending a more effective ownership. That is the type of ownership influence and challenges that is geared towards attaining professionalism in media operation particularly in Nigeria.

Moreover, it is also done in a critically way in order to examined the challenges facing Nigeria media establishment like , Television, Newspaper, Magazine, Journals etc. The researcher narrowed down his research to television using AIT Benin as the case study.

Four research questions was set to guide the research work and 142 employees in AIT Benin city were sampled as respondents.

The research concluded that there is an undue regulation of AIT by the NBC.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Media as a watchdog and the mirror of the nation perform crucial roles in the society and as well it is influence in its editorial policy. Kendal (2002,p.32), insist that mass is truly applicable to the medium of radio for it more than other media in reaching all groups of the population uniform’’ but before we proceed with this work, we will include not only the mechanical devices that transmit and sometimes, messages (TV cameras, radio microphones, printing press) but also the institution that use these machines to transmit messages. When we talk about the mass media of television, radio, newspaper, magazine, sound recoding and film, we will be referring to the people, the policies the organization and the technology that go into productions of mass communication (Dominick, 2007).

Mass media are technology that is intended to reach a mass audience. It is the primary means of communication used to reach the vast majority of the general public. The most common platforms for mass media are newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet (Ngoa, 2006). The general public typically relies on the mass media to provide information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment, and news in pop culture.

Through mass media, news outlets have a major influence on the general public and a major impact on the public’s opinion on certain topics. In many cases, the mass media is the only source that the general public relies on for news. For example, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, mass media made it possible for the public to witness this historical event.

Sponsorship of the media house, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the editorial policy of the media house since the owner(s) of the media house usually does or do the afore-stated factors (Nordenstreng, 2005). The media ownership has therefore in some ways influenced the editorial policy and this has posed problems to journalism as a trade. In this case, the editorial writing has to function with the policy framework and editorial principles. Nothing runs the editor down as having the option of either doing it the way the policy dictates or he resigns or otherwise sacked. Influence of media ownership on editorial policy have made many private owned media station to collapse in operations and have also made them to lose their readership grip (Nordenstreng, 2005). In the case of a Announcer Newspapers, as a privately owned Newspaper, if dies not have so many policies that usually affect its readership except that its front and back page stories are centered on Imo state. Often times, it faces the stiff competition of the national and other local newspapers. Again, people from other state would always see the purchase of the newspaper as a waste since it does not usually spread its tentacles.

According to Uche, (2009,p.56). The owners of the media in Nigeria are not only major capitalists in their own right but are also closely linked to the ruling circles around the globe. Further more, result Indicates that the current media ownership pattern in Nigeria negatively affects the ability of the media to perform without hindrance. This is exemplified by the situation where media practitioners working in both private and public media organizations make sure that their reports are not perceived as ‘unfavorable’ by the government of the day.

The reality is that public media which are financed with public funds and controlled by public officials do not criticize government actions or inactions because of fear of sanctions (Uche, 2009). Many media executives in the public media have been known to lose their jobs because they disagreed with government officials. Some private media outfits established by associates of public officials indirectly influence the running of private media out fits.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune’’ is a common statement in the media. Ownership has being a major challenge in the editorial policies of media organisations. It is so bad in some media organisations that the ethics of journalism are exchanged with the opinions and decisions of the proprietors of the organisation. Dare (2000,p.22) while writing on the challenges of privately owned media stations said, “ there is no doubt that owners in market based media have ultimate power over content and can ask for what they want to be included or left.” This is against the ethics of journalism.

According to Dominick, (2007,p.12) “There are codes of good practise that govern how media controllers (editor and station managers) interact as laid out by regulatory bodies.” But how many media owners stick to these codes? In Nigeria, government has continuously used the state owned media to crush the voice of the opposition. Many governments have used these media to their advantage during presidential elections campaigns across the state, especially if the government in power is contesting. In such cases, the opposition would have to turn to God for a miracle. Melody in Meier, stated that “in addition to ownership concentration of the mass media industry, content provision, packaging and distribution have also become a standardised production and marketing process in which the messages communicated are contained and directed in both quantity and quality to meet the economic imperatives of media owners.” Giddens (2009,p.5) said, “The media have a double relation to democracy. On the one hand the emergence of a global information society is a powerful democratising force. Yet, television and the other media, tend to destroy the very public.” Within the context of supporting democratic transitions, the goal of media development generally should be to move the media from one that is directed or even overtly controlled by government or private interests to one that is more open and has a degree of editorial independence that serves the public interest.

Omu, (2000,p.9) stated that “the earlier mass media of press and broadcasting were widely seen as beneficial (even necessary) from the conduct of democratic politics.” Considering the fact that those who have the resources to own media organisations will always have the upper hand in terms of prominence in the news, McQuail (2009,p;.76) said “the typical organisation and forms of mass communication limit access and discourage active participation and dialogue.” Government control of print and broadcast media in Nigeria leave little scope for discussing opinions and therefore, public debate.

According to Mtimbe (2011,p.69), “The Charter called for : the emergence of a new era in Africa – an Africa in which democracy, accountability, economic justice and development for transformation become internalised and the empowerment of the people, initiative and enterprise and the democratisation of the development process are the order of the day.” While in some countries, the antagonistic relationship between government and the media helps in shaping the democracies of these countries, it is not so in most African countries, where most governments see criticisms from the media, no matter how constructive they may sound as a direct attack on their administration. As a result of this perception, most of these administrations have devised means to curtail the excesses of the media which in most cases are against the fundamental human rights on freedom of expression. Journalists within these countries have been sent to jail, or detained without trial or even beaten up or humiliated by wives and families (direct and indirect) of these leaders. In fact, some media houses have even been forced to close down because of remarks made that sound unpalatable to the administration in power. Ocitti (2002,p.88) said, “to African leaders, however, the freedom the media was demanding was to be placed within their own power positions and a wider context of national unity.” Hence, governments in power spend money on media houses and those who do not have any invest heavily to have one on ground so that they would use such media as tools of propaganda and image making to cover for poor performance in office.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Influence of media ownership on editorial policy have made many broadcast stations to collapse in operations and have also made them to lose their readership grip. Sponsorship of the media house, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the editorial policy of the media house since the owner(s) of the media house usually does or do the afore-stated factors. The media ownership has therefore in some ways influenced the editorial policy and this has posed problems to journalism as a trade. The problem necessitating this study is what are the challenges confronting privately owned media stations in a democratic dispensation.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study are stated as follows:

  1. To examine the challenges facing private owned media stations in Nigeria
  2. To find out how the ownership management and control affects and influence the traditional objectivity of news and information dissemination in Nigeria.
  3. To examine the achievement of private owned media in Nigeria
  4. To proffer solution to this challenges

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the challenges facing private owned media stations in Nigeria?
  2. To what extent does ownership management and control affects and influence the traditional objectivity of news and information dissemination?
  3. What are the achievements of private owned media in Nigeria?
  4. What are the solution to this challenges?

1.5 Significance of Study

This study would serve as guide to private media houses as the see the solution of some challenges confronting media houses. It would also be a reference material for research scholars who might want to research further on the concept under study. The study would also serve as reference point for policy makers who would be interested in knowing how editorials can assist in the process of policy making in government.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study would attempt to explain the challenges confronting privately owned media stations in a democratic dispensation in Nigeria with reference to African Independent Television (AIT) Benin City.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

One of the major problems encountered by the researcher is the monetary problem. There was no sufficient money to make the purchasing of all necessary materials for the research work. There was also the problem of meeting some personalities to get information from them. Because of that, the researcher found it difficult to collect all the necessary information. Time on the other hand was a big limitation as the researcher has other lectures to attend alongside the project report.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

This work tried to examine the challenges confronting privately owned media stations in a democratic dispensation in Nigeria. It was discovered that media performance is a function of ownership. The potency of ownership has made media become propaganda machines and instruments to achieve either economic or political interests of the owner. Mass media should exist to inform, educate and enlighten the public on political, social, economic and cultural values. I However, government do not own mass media for take above purpose “. alone (Chukwu 1999). Government use mass media to promote its policies and programmes. Hence mass media acts as effective organ of government. All through the, history of broadcasting in Nigeria, the owners do use it as effective. organ of persuasion, and propaganda to foster the political aspiration of its owners and to gain public acceptance of their ‘i, social philosophy, policies and programmes. Mass media hold enormous influence which could be utilized to enhance political aspirations, gain public acceptance and good image cieation. Media could also be profit oriented. Media owners through their house policy manipulate journalists by stating how the news should be reported and protect the interest of the media owners. Any journalist who fails to abide by the house policy is sanctioned by his employers (media owner). I This type of scenario puts a wedge on journalist practice in Nigeria.


5.2 Recommendation

Both private and government-owned media should pursue credibility rather than project the interest of media owners. Media should be operated along the lines of social responsibility and public interest rather than any other consideration in their news gathering and presentation. Salaries and wages of journalist should be enhanced, not to be at the whim and caprice of the media owners. There should be efforts to strengthen and empower the NU? to cater for the welfare of its members. The present conditions of services of journalists makes them susceptible.


5.3 Conclusion

Different levels of government in Nigeria (that is state and federal governments) serving and retired high level public and private officials, politicians, as well as influential businessmen and women, own most of the media organizations in Nigeria. These same groups of people (the ruling elite) are the core “news makers” whose views and opinions populate most of the views, news, opinions and information disseminated in the media in Nigeria.
The concept of “news making” by “news makers” which largely revolves around this same group of people (the ruling elite) and the control they exert both directly and indirectly undermines the ability of the media to on its own perform its agenda setting function. Instead, the media functions to regurgitate the imposed agendas of its owners, their friends and associates. This therefore shows that current media ownership pattern and the level of media control in Nigeria actually hinder the media from independently setting society‟s agenda.


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