Influence Of Newscasters Dressing Modes On Port Harcourt Viewers: A Study Of African Independent Television (AIT) And Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)
This study sought to find out influence of newscasters dressing modes on Port Harcourt viewers: a case study of AIT and NTA. The study utilised a qualitative approach underpinned by the objectification theory, which attempts to explain the tendency to equate women with their bodies. The sample was selected purposively and included thirty–two students, eight anchors and fifteen field reporters. The objectives of the study were to determine factors that influence the viewer(attractiveness, gender, experience and knowledge) on perception of female news anchors and subsequently on the choice of the of television stations in Nigeria. The study found out that both male and female respondents agreed that attractiveness influenced perception of news anchors and choice of television stations, however what each gender considered attractive varied across gender.. The conclusion was that the perception of female news anchors and choice of television stations is influenced by attractiveness of the news anchors and this may play a role in competition among media stations.
1.1. Background of the Study
Over thepast twenty years, Nigerian television industry has seen a great transformation in the manner in which news is presented to viewers (Oriare, Orlale and Ugangu, 2010). Because of competition, television stations have been forced adopt new strategies to attract more viewers to their channels. Advertising has also become the major money maker source for local television stations; prime time (right before and after a news bulleting is presented) is considered very lucrative (http://www.Port Harcourtbusinessmonthly.com/cover-story/an-insightfullook-at-the-revolution-in-Nigerias-mainstream-media/). As a result, there is intense competition among broadcasters to have the most viewership in order to get advertisers intending to promote their products, services or events to the desired market. As a result, almost all television stations have moved from the traditional conservative way of broadcasting news to the public. They have chosen to get rid of the dull broadcasts, presented by conservatively dressed news anchors. Conversely, trendy, viewers ideas have been adapted to make news presentation more entertaining, bold, and still aim at maintaining its informative aspect.
In an attempt to stand out in the flooded and highly competitive environment, television stations have identified and adapted trendy and effective strategies to enhance their viewers’ experience. Some of these strategies include the use of modes such as sign language anchors, text scrawls at the bottom of the screen, soundtracks, public participants, live interviews, celebrity news co-anchors, lighting and colour effects (Gillmor, 2004). These strategies are cleverly being crafted so as to project the desired effect, which will ultimately serve the best interests of the stations.
However, with these advancements, it is continuously becoming more challenging to maintain the informative aspect of television news broadcasts. This is because it is no longer an easy task to position information in the minds of the targeted audience. While some of these strategies might have impacted positively on news presentation and viewership, several others have also negatively affected the presenters and viewers. A few of the negative effects presented by some of these strategies are stereotyping and discrimination of news anchors, particularly female presenters, and distraction of viewers’ comprehension of the message being broadcasted (Goldberg, 2001).
More than 50% percent of the Nigerian population is comprised of people between 18 and 40 years, making viewers the majority in the Country (Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), 2009).In an attempt to reach the desired news effect and attract more viewer viewers, anchors have willingly or unwillingly adopted a variety of tactics to engage their audiences’ attention. One of the strategies identified, adapted and commonly applied by local television stations is the use of sex-appeal to increase viewership during news presentation. This has majorly been based on the knowledge that ‘sex sells’ (Streitmatter, 2004). Sex was first used in advertising by an advertisement for Pearl Tobacco brand in 1871; this advert had a naked young lady on the package cover (Porter and Livesay, 1971). In 1885, W. Duke & Sons advertised by inserting trading cards into cigarette boxes that had sexually a provocative starlet in the 1890s(Porter and Livesay, 1971). The core function of television news broadcasts, which is its informative aspect, seems to have been eroded and replaced by the emphasis on financial gains from sexualised anchors; sex-appeals are increasingly becoming a strategy used to lure more viewers.
As competition in the television industry stiffens, stations have resorted to a such aggressive attention grabbing approaches while others have to date maintained the conservative way of news presentation. It seems that a number of television stations have arrived to the conclusion that more exposure of cleavage and more inches above the knee should be used. In this respect, “sexy’ appears to have replaced ‘smart’ with more television stations encouraging popular anchors of prime time news to embrace sex-appeals. Surveys have been done to assess the presence of sex-appeal in advertisements. However, focus has not been placed on explaining how their use affects the way viewer viewers perceive news anchors.
This study sought to find out whether viewers view news anchors as sex objects or information conveyers, Furthermore, the study addressed whether appearance, gender and age influenced new viewership among the viewer. The study was particularly driven by a particular cartoon drawn by Gadoin the Daily Nation on May 2013, illustrating ‘a sexualised female anchor’ presenting television news (See Appendix A). Consequently, this study intends to help the general public, media students, learning institutions, news anchors and news broadcasters unravel the mystery behind the usage or against usage of anchors’ sex-appeal to beat the competition by knowing what viewer viewers prefer. It will focus on finding out if anchors’ sex-appeal affects perception among viewer viewers, and if increased focus on high viewership and popularity distorts the intended purpose of news presentation which is to convey information.
1.2. Statement of the Research Problem
Several guidelines have been proposed to maintain the core aspects of news coverage. Some of these guidelines relates to television news anchors’ dress code. According to Copeland (2013), television news anchors should dress in a simple manner unless they are fashion designers. Furthermore, television news anchors’ dress code should not distract viewers’ attention into focusing on their physical attractiveness (Copeland, 2013).
Locally, the Nigeria National Assembly in 2013 passed laws governing the media industry in the country; the Nigeria Information and Communications (Amendment) Act 2013, and the Media Council Act 2013 (AMWIK, 2014). The set laws are aimed at strengthening proficiency within the media industry in the country. Communications Authority of Nigeria, the Media Council of Nigeria and Nigeria Film and Classification Board, which are tasked with outlining the guidelines and codes of ethics governing journalism in Nigeria, have made strides in ensuring that competence is maintained within the media industry. They encourage media practitioners, particularly television news anchors and reporters to dress appropriately and conduct themselves accordingly while carrying out their duties (Copeland, 2013).
However, there is a knowledge gap on the effects of an anchors’ sex-appeal, and the role of other demographic factors like gender, age, and physical attractiveness, in viewership, presentation as well as employment, and it is this gap the study seeks to fill. Employers seem to be concentrating on sex-appeal, age, gender, and physical attractiveness when recruiting television news anchors (Haper, 2002). In addition, television stations seem to be using particular sex-appeals to target specific age and gender among its viewers. Male viewer viewers seem to be most affected and their ability to comprehend television news appears to have been distorted. Sexualized anchors look to have taken centre stage, thus viewer viewers; appear to be concentrating on the presenters’ physical attractiveness rather than the information being conveyed.
Furthermore, television news anchors seem to be willing to go to a great extent to gain viewer popularity. This study therefore aimed at determining how viewers’ perception of female television news anchors was affected when presenters used sexual appeals in their presentation. Moreover, it sought to determine the contribution of other demographic factors such as television news anchors’ age, gender and physical attractiveness on viewership and popularity among the viewer.
1.3. Objectives of the Study
- To establish if appearance of women news anchors influences viewership among the viewer
- To establish if male and female news anchors influence viewer television viewership differently
- To establish if the viewer grasps the news content when attractive female anchors are used
1.4 Research Questions
The study was led by the following research questions:
- What is the viewers’ perception of female television news anchors?
- Do male and female news anchors influence viewer television viewership differently?
- Do the viewer grasp the news content when attractive female anchors are used?
1.5 Scope of the Study
While television stations are established all over the country, due to proximity factors, this study will be restricted to those located within Port Harcourt County, Nigeria. Furthermore, this is due to the fact that leading television stations in Nigeria, namely, NTA, NTV, AIT, AIT TV and AIT are all located within the city. Since this study is primarily concerned with television stations, it will be limited to matters relating to female anchors’, and its effects on viewer perception of the female presenters.
1.6 Significance of the Study
To policy makers and the County Governments as well as the National Government especially the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology, the study will give insight into the effects of sex-appeal on television news perception by viewers, and thus help policy makers and regulatory bodies, such as Communications Authority of Nigeria, the Media Council of Nigeria and Nigeria Film and Classification Board, to identify the loopholes in the present laws and code ethics governing journalism in Nigeria. Eventually, they can revise the present guidelines so as to maintain acceptable standards within the media industry or promote edutainment in all sectors of media. The Ministry of Education and higher learning institutions offering media related courses will also gain insight on the need to enforce media proficiency within the school curriculum. Thus, this study will inform the ongoing reforms in the media industry in Nigeria.
To television news anchors and students inspiring to become journalists in future, this study will enable them see the need to maintain and uphold acceptable standards while executing their duties. This study will inform them of the effects of using sex-appeals, and how they affect their viewers’ ability to comprehend the message they intend to relay through the broadcast. Furthermore, this study will enlighten them of their rights as journalists particularly in regards to prejudice and discrimination at work place or wrongful employment termination based on anchors age, or refusal to use sex-appeal in their presentation or physical attractiveness.
To television station owners and top level management, this study will help them see the need to introduce and maintain standards and code of ethics within their companies. It will also help them understand that by putting a lot of emphasis on sex-appeals, they are indirectly discriminating against a section of their employees who refuse to accept or cannot meet the set standards. The study will also help broadcast stations to decide whether the use of sex appeal does promote or reduce the popularity of their stations (is this a mode that they should adopt or drop). To the academic fraternity, the study will help contribute to the body of knowledge that exists on proficiency in the media industry. It will also help prospective researchers to carry out the same study in other sectors of the society.
1.7 Operational Terms
This is a group of people that fall within the age group of 18-40
A person who presents news during a news program on television.
A personal appeal or physical attractiveness especially for members of the opposite sex.
Transmit (a program or some information) by radio or television.
1.8 Organization of the Study
The study is organized into six chapters.
- Chapter one covers; background to the study, statement of the problem, general objective of the study, specific objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, limitation of the study, delimitations of the study, operational definition of terms and organization of the study.
- Chapter two covers review of related literature, theoretical framework and conceptual framework.
- Chapter Three covers research methodology which includes: introduction, research design, target population, sampling techniques and sample size, data collection instruments, validity and reliability of research instruments, data collecting procedures, data analysis techniques and ethical considerations.
- Chapter four covers research results of the study.
- Chapter five covers discussions and interpretations of research findings.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
The research was carried out to find out influence of newscasters dressing modes on port Harcourt viewers: a case study of AIT and NTA, the researcher specifically sought to find out whether the appearance of women news anchors influenced viewership among the viewer, the research found out that anchors’ physical attractiveness to some extent did influence the television news station viewers tuned into, the study concluded that other factors apart from the physical appearance of female anchors influenced viewership among the viewer for example the code of dressing, language use in expounding on the news, and the content of news.
In addition, the researcher concludes that the female anchors used frequent and more visual sex-appeals to attract more viewers such as dressing in short skirts, too revealing tight clothes showing their curves and it seemed okay and attractive to male viewer viewers and the female viewer viewers were attracted to the fashion used by the anchors. The study concluded that the male viewer viewers were targeted by use of attractive female anchors for example magazines and newspapers where the sexiest female news anchors and presenters were ranked and often interviewed.
The study concludes that the viewer viewers’ perception of a sexualized female news anchors is that they are used as sex objects and that was the reason for commonly ranking sexiest female news anchors. Also the study concludes that the viewer viewers got the news concepts but most males could not concentrate and would find themselves undressing the female anchors in their imaginations and this besides being professional news anchors they were also used as sex objects which in return played mind games with the male viewers who instead found themselves undressing the female anchors in their minds instead of grasping the news content.
The study concludes that female anchors influenced the stations viewer watch more than male anchors but not all female news anchors embraced the use of sex appeal in news presentation to attract larger viewers audience.Finally, the study concludes that employers play a major role in employing attractive young anchors and employers together with the general public demand of these women to be physically attractive and beautiful; there is too much pressure on the anchors to maintain the standards of the station by looking sexualized.
The researcher found out that female anchors play a big role in the popularity of the station through their attractiveness, age and dressing; this has played a big role in attracting both female and male viewers but particularly targeting the male gender.
The researcher recommends that a specific dress code by the female news anchors should be set thereby limiting their exaggeration in dressing though still managing to look presentable and this would reduce the perception that they are used as sex objects despite being professionals in news anchoring.
Further the researcher recommends that besides professionalism in journalism, anchors be hired considering their natural talents. For a News anchors to be hired they should be people who are naturally creative in words use and this would make them popular without using sex appeals to attract viewers.
Since the study found out that the male viewers were to some extent distracted by the attractive female anchors as they found themselves sexually attracted to the anchors and their concentration distorted, it is obvious that this would reduce the amount of information recalled by male viewers. Therefore, the study would recommend the over sexualised female anchors be given news articles that are more concerned with edutainment as opposed to hard news articles.
The study also found out that as female anchors aged they were immediately replaced by younger anchors and given posts in the back office, the researcher would recommend that the aging anchors who still maintained rich knowledge in the media industry be given opportunities to carry out lifestyle shows for the older public thus also engage them.
5.3 Need for Further Research
Since the rapid growth of the Television Stations there has been a lot of competition among stations, that has made some stations to use different modes in attracting their viewers, sex appeal is a subject that is sensitive but needs more research so as to find out to what extent sex appeal can be used and not be offensive.
Given that this research has major Limitations especially due to the fact that it was only carried out within University of Port Harcourt, more research should be done on a larger population with different demographics and geographical locations so as to give a general feel on what Nigerians in general think about Female news anchors in Nigeria.
There should be more documented literature on the effects of using of different modes of advertising to gain popularity in the media industry and how the general population is affected by this new marketing techniques, does it affect the way the product is received.
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