Prospects And Problems Of Private Media Management In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Prospects And Problems Of Private Media Management In Nigeria


Abstract


Ownership of the media was vested with the government, especially in the areas of issuance of licenses and renewal of such licenses, among others, through the National Broadcasting Commission empowered to carry out such salient responsibility. The empowerment of NBC through the enabling Decree in 1992 saw the emergence of private broadcast stations in Nigeria. But years after the deregulation of the broadcast media in Nigeria, the private broadcast stations and ownership are still bedeviled with some challenges, which If not well addressed, will leave them at cross roads; but if addressed properly, the sky would be too small to be their limit. To realize these, the study examined the problems and prospects of private broadcast media using Osun State Broadcasting Corporationas case studies. The survey method was used to expose the challenges faced by these stations and their prospects. In course of the study, the following findings, interalia, were discovered: that the private broadcast outfits are faced with challenges arising from poor facilities, government regulation and legislations, expensive equipment, welfare and debts. However, the study discovered that progress could be made if enabling environment would be created for them to strive.

Keywords: Challenges, Prospects, Private, Broadcast, Media, Ownership


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of Study

Broadcasting and the electronic media are the vehicle through which diverse audiences get abreast with the happenings in the society, especially in this era of globalization. Akpan, (2002, p.3) made this fact more explicit when he described broadcasting as the systematic dissemination of entertainment, information, educational and other features for simultaneous reception by a scattered audience individually or in group Electronic media are known for their immediacy of impact, their potentially wider reach, and their ability to transcend the banners of literacy and education to a particularly diverse audience. Thus, Abubakar (1993, p.183) succinctly notes that, “the electronic media refer only to radio and televisions. These forms of mass media reach millions of people simultaneously and with immediacy…” Moreover, the electronic media have also emerged as the most powerful tools for influencing the direction of public opinion in any modern society (Izuora 1993, p.190). Ezeokoli, (1993, p.201) reaffirms that television (broadcasting) is by far the most potentmedium, because of the immediacy and intimacy of it transmission. It is also, therefore, why Odetoyinbo (2001, p.2) posits that broadcasting has been found to be a force to be reckoned with in the development of nations all over the world. It presupposes that broadcasting is a bridge building tool for development.

It suffices to say that to realize these tasks, there must be ownership of media. Media ownership was hitherto left in the hands of governments, state and federal. In 1977, the Federal Military Government took over all television broadcasting stations in Nigeria and placed them under the authority of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). Powerful short wave radio stations were also taken over and placed under the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). This gave strong influence on government as the sole transmitter of signals to diverse audiences in the country. During this period, the government dictated what went on air and how. There was however a turn of events in 1992 as broadcasting was deregulated via promulgation of Decree 38 by the then military government headed by General Ibrahim Babaginda. It was called Decree 38, 24 August, 1992 of the Federal Military Government, Gazette extraordinary No.33:1992. This gave birth to the broadcasting commission which was empowered to act as a guide to broadcast outfits. Nwanze (2003, p.9) said they were to, among other things, advise the Federal Military Government generally on the implementation of the National Mass Communication Policy, with particular reference to broadcasting; regulating and controlling the broadcast industry. This scenario gave rise to the recognition of private broadcast media establishments in the country, a situation which liberalized and deregulated the process of broadcasting in Nigeria. It happened people to have more access to information and information dissemination process in Nigeria. The process of information dissemination was no longer seen as exclusive for the government media and their owners, rather required the contributions of the private broadcast outfits to move the sector forward, hence Daar Communications Limited applied for licence for television in Nigeria, and Daar Communications Limited received licence for direct Satellite television in June, 1995. It then started operating the Satellite television with call sign — AlT (Africa Independent Television) to local and global audience (Nwanze 2003, p.15). It is also in line with the foregoing that Silverbird Group got the leverage which empowered her to seek for broadcast licence. In January, 2004, Silverbird Group commenced commercial transmission of Silverbird Television, a family entertainment channel. The station has very high quality programmes and clear reception which is the reason for very wide viewership in Nigeria. This becomes the foundation on which the establishment of the Rhythm 93.7fm was based. Above all, the contributions of the private broadcast media to the enlightenment, information and education of the general populace cannot be overstressed. However, these contributions are not devoid of challenges. It is, therefore, the main thrust of this expository study, which is geared towards digging out the prospects inherent in this sector and proffering solutions to the detected challenges.


1.2 Statement of Problem

The private media exist in Nigeria, like their public counterparts with problems starring them on their faces. Even though, the private media outfits exist under the cover and protection of the government, they still are not free from problems which impede their growth and development. No doubt, the government owned media outfits are bedeviled with such problems as the continuous use of out-dated equipment, thereby failing to catch up with the changes of globalization which are known for modernity: the non-availability of training and retraining opportunities, which is the bedrock for enhanced productivity; poor remuneration for staff, thereby having low motivation to perform optimally and above all, the teleguidance of management and staff by their employers — Government, hence only projecting the activities of government with little or no regard for their responsibility to the public. This situation is not different with the private broadcast media. Obviously, the private media are incessantly and continuously bedeviled with myriad of challenges, such that they are almost always forced to leave the business of discharging their social responsibility to the disadvantage of the citizenry. First, there seems to be the problem of interference from government and its agencies. It is because of this that Nwanze (2003, p.9) stressed that “National Security, peace andstability are better enhanced through a free media with inbuilt regulatory machinery that are inherently oppressive and suppressive”. Similarly, the government through management seems to employ the use of censorship to gag and cage the press. In the process, government is believed to attempts to not only control but subjugate the press through obnoxious laws have remained an enduring problem. Moreover, the private outfits are also believed to be confronted with the problem of lack or paucity of fund, especially to acquire the needed equipment which are quite expensive. Though training is somewhat pursued by the private broadcast media, the best is yet to be seen from them. There are no welfare opportunities for the staff of the private broadcast outfits, as their salaries for some are still considered as nothing to write home about. In fact, some are reported to owe backlogs of salaries. The regulatory bodies also are accused of using of the process of issuance of licence to ventilate anger on private broadcast outfits, especially when owners do not belong to the same political outfits especially cartels with those in power. These seeming problems, invariably, are likely to truncate information dissemination, thereby leading to starving the populace of the information they require and putting question marks on the media social responsibility functions. Thus, the need arises for proper evaluation and assessment of these problems and exploration of the prospects of the private media amidst perceived challenges. It is, therefore, against this backdrop that this study is focused or derives its aim with emphasis onOsun State Broadcasting Corporation.


1.3 Objectives of Study

The goals of this research are:

  1. To identify the challenges faced by private media in Nigeria;
  2. To determine the challenges peculiar to Osun State Broadcasting Corporation as private broadcast station;
  3. To ascertain the prospects of private broadcast media in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

Based on the above mentioned objectives, this study will be guided by the following research questions:

  1. What are the challenges faced by private broadcast media in Nigeria?
  2. Are there challenges peculiar to Osun State Broadcasting Corporation?
  3. What are the prospects of private broadcast media in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is significant in the following ways:-

  1. It will help the researcher understand how media practitioners in government owned media operate.
  2. It would serve as a mirror for the media practitioners in government owned media to see clearly where they need to make adjustments so as to carry out their social responsibility functions better without compromise.
  3. It would contribute to existing literatures on this topic as it would give researchers opportunity to read and make reference to when discussing issues concerning media ownership and its challenges in Nigeria
  4. It would point out positive direction for a vibrant and professionally efficient press, which will translate to a very high image for the media with unequivocal positive economic implications.
  5. It would propel further research on how constraints on journalistic practice in government owned media could be reduced to the barest minimum or better still eliminated.

1.6 Scope of the Study

A research of this magnitude would have been better to encompass as many private media stations as possible, but doing that would not only be too cumbersome, but would make the research to be complicated. This therefore calls for a sample of the population to be chosen.

This study would therefore be limited to Osun State Broadcasting Corporation a private-owned station in the South-west geo-political zone of Nigeria.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

The study was designed to sample the constraints on journalistic practice in private- owned media stations in Nigeria. As a major constraint, there is the tendency of the media practitioners to be uncooperative in terms of giving out information due to the fact that many who dared to expose the government in the past were given one form of punishment or the other.


1.8 Definition of Terms

The terms below are defined in the context that they are operationalized in the study:-

Constraints

Those factors militating against the practice of journalism.

Ethics

Rules or standard regulating activities of the press. • Government – group of people who are responsible for controlling a country or state.

Private Media

These refers to private-owned media located in the south-south geo-political zone of Nigeria.

Media

These refer to radio, television, newspapers and magazines that are used in the dissemination of information to a large and heterogonous audience.


Chapter Five


Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The fulcrum of this study is on examining in totality, the Problems and prospects of private media in the Nigerian landscape. To properly handle this task, the study narrowed down to Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Silverbird’s Rhythm 93.7fm both in Port Harcourt.

It should, however be noted that through the revelation from this study that all is not well with the private broadcast media outfits, as lots of challenges hamper their performance, such that their successes have been hanging in a balance, thereby reducing the chances of achieving their set goals.

More than anything else, success would be the order-of-the- day and, the world information and communication order would be achieved via the existence of private broadcast stations, thereby achieving not only the millennium development goal, but the global target of the world as a village throughout the world and Nigeria in particular.


5.2 Recommendation

Thus, the following recommendations are proffered, the implementation of which is hoped will mitigate the challenges affecting the broadcast media and help maximize their prospects for ultimate development:

  1. Management and other operatives should comply with laws guiding the profession and nation.
  2. The operators must be given free hand to operate, but not without respect for professionalism.
  3. Tariff for importation of broadcast equipment should be reduced to enhance productivity and participation.
  4. Training of staff should be top on priority to enhance productivity.
  5. Those placing adverts should be made to pay before broadcast of their advertisement, to avoid piling debts, thereby affecting the welfare of staff, as well as running of the station.
  6. Salaries of workers should be paid regularly and on time; to avoid strike, which will affect transmission.
  7. Positions of authority in the private broadcast stations should be a product of a sheer dint of hard work, merit and capabilities and not through sentiment and favoritism; to avoid mediocrity and low productivity.
  8. Government should avoid incessant harassment of practitioners and operators, as well as media owners, by so doing; a level playing field would be created.

Prospects And Problems Of Private Media Management In Nigeria


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