THE IMPACT OF GOVERNMENT OWNERSHIP ON MEDIA OBJECTIVITY ( A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIAN TELEVISION AUTHORITY)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In this part of the world,media ownership first began with the activities of colonial missionaries.with the establishment of “lwe lrohin”,Henry Townsend had a platform with which he could communicate with the community.Thus began the advent of newspaper in Nigeria,in 1859.
The other set of people to have engaged in mass media were the Nationalists namely:Herbert Macauley,Nnamdi Azikiwe,and Obafemi Awolowo,to mention but a few. In this colonial era,newspapers like the African pilot were established to advocate for self-rule in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. While the Nationalists engaged in massive mobilisation and orientation through these early media,the colonialists made use of the media to propagate their policies,to galvanise support for the second world war,and to engage in massive propaganda,depicting their race as superior to the black race. then in 1959,the then premier of western Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo established the western Nigeria Television (WNTV). Thus began the interest of the Nigerian Government in mass media. Soon enough,immediately after independence,state-owned television and radio stations began to spring up in every part of the country.
Consequently,in 1992,the Babangida regime effected the deregulation and democratisation of the broadcasting sector in Nigeria,along side the annulment of the 12 june 1993 presidential election. The deregulation of the broadcast media brought to an end government’s monopoly of the broadcast media and the emergence of independent broadcasting stations. The annulment led to greater political awareness and the presence of a commited courageous press.
The history of the media in Nigeria has always been characterised by two major forms of ownership, thoes owned by the government and thoes owned by private individuals. In the case of government ownership,the media are completely financed and supervised by the government like:Nigeria Television Authortity(NTA),Federal Radio Coporation of Nigeria(frcn),Voice of Nigeria(VON),the various states owned radio and television;while the private owned media are financed and controlled by private individuals like:Ray power Fm,Africa Independent Television(AIT),Galaxy Television,Channels Television,etc. These forms of media ownership are all driven by separate agenda. The government media houses are used mainly as instruments of propaganda for the government,while the private media owners are driven by different motives,which could be profit making,agenda setting,to win influence which can be later translated into political and business gains,etc. (Uche Nworah,Freelance Writer)
Undoubtely,and as it has been frequently suggested,stations owned by the government are bound to be pro-government. The saying,”He who pays the piper,dictates the tune”greatly applies here. You cannot possibly bite the hand that feeds you. Nigeria Television Authority (NTA),Federal Radio Coporation of Nigeria(NTA),Voice of Nigeria(VON),and other government owned stations cannot air anything that antagonises or do not support the government policies and actions. In fact,such stations are frequently used as tools for propaganda. They never see anything bad in the government. Most often,they become the mouthpiece of the state-instruments of publicity. A lot of people now prefer to watch and listen to news from AIT,Channels,Ray Power Fm,Solid Fm,etc.than from NTA or NTA,because they believe that NTA or NTA does not portray truth in their news item,especially when such news items concern the government.
Apart from the effects given above,there is one that is very common today. Although,state-owned (public) media organisations have their flaws,they have their good sides. Government-owned media houses are not profit oriented and therefore,do not pay overt attention to such programmes that will generate income. Private media organisations,on the other hand,are established for profit-making. As is evident today,most private stations give more time to programmes that are seen as gold mines. Reality Tv Shows ,musicals,and paid programmes carry the day.(Imhoagene Richard,a freelance writer).
Objectivity is a significant principle of journalistic prrofessionalism. Journalistic objectivity is fairness, disinterestedness,factuality,and non-partisanship. The BBC,even though is a British government-owned media outfit would never give undue advantage to the British government against the British citizens. In a sharp contrast,however,with the NTA the story is diametrically different. The government and government alone comes first. For instance,the BBC covered in all its ramifications,the protest on the streets of london and other parts of tha country. People,in fact,relied more on the BBC than Sky news,a privately-owned media organisations for authentic news of events in that country. In Nigeria,however,an average educated Nigerian in Nigeria or anywhere in the world would rather tune a foreign channel for an unbiased news of events about Nigeria than tune to NTA.
We believe that NTA according to its motto can only,”uplift and unite” Nigeria by telling the nation the truth and not half truth,innuendoes and outright lies. We believe it will not harm the funding of NTA if they tell Nigerians the truth. What a fortunate incident that president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Freedom of Information Bill,which serves as an advantage to NTA to extricate themselves from the “non-existent strangehold” of the government at this critical period of our nation’s life.
1.1.1 BRIEF HISTORY OF NTA ENUGU
Nigerian Television Authority is the pioneer broadcast organisation in Nigeria. It was introduced to Nigeria by the British on December 19,1932,when BBC signals were relayedto receivers through the rediffusion system. In 1951,the Nigerian Broadcasting Service(NBS) was inaugurated mainly to relay theBritish Broadcasting Corporation(BBC) programmes.
The Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation was established by an Act of parliament No.39 of 1956 and began operations as a statutory corporation on 1st April,1957. The NBC was in operation until 1978 when the Nigerian Television Authority came into being by virtue of Decree No.8 of 1979 with retrospective effect from 1st April 1978. Through this Decree,the Federal Government dissolved the NBC and handed over twenty of its stations to state governments. NTA has five national stations which include:NTA Abuja(Headquarters),Enugu,lbadan,Kaduna,and Lagos National Stations,but all together it has 32 FM stations pan Nigeria.
Of which NTA Enugu is a national station with other FM stations controlled by it in the south-south and south-east zones of the country. Fm stations .controlled by it are:Treasure Fm-port Harcourt,Purity Fm-Awka,Unity Fm-Abakiliki,Heartland Fm-owerri,Pacesetter Fm-Umuahia,Creek Fm-Yenagoa,Atlantic Fm-uyo,and Paradise Fm-calabar.NTA Enugu broadcast its programmes in English and lgbo language.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
The influence of the government is seen in the unflinching support government media organisations give the government of the day,and this is the problem under study.
Government owned media make their reporters dance to their wimps and caprices,always promoting their activities,evenwhen they don’t deserve it.
The problem of this study is not just to see the effects of government ownership on media objectivity,but to see if anything can be done to avoid the influence of government on its media,and NTA Enugu falls prey to this problem.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of this study is to check the effects of government ownership on media objectivity.
Specific objectives are as follows:
- a) To determine if NTA Enugu fully or partially dance to the wimps and caprices of the government.
- b) To determine if NTA Enugu can do anything to avoid government’s influence on their news and programmes.
- c) To determine how government ownership of NTA Enugu affects its news and programmes objectivity.
- d) To offer suggestions on how government owned media should be handled to achieve better res
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study on the effects of government ownership on media objectivity is significant in a number of ways:
Firstly,this study will add to literatures on the effects of government ownership on media objectivity.
Secondly,this research undertaking is significant for the suspicion the mass audience has for messages disseminated from government owned media.
Thirdly,it will help provide adequate insight to meet the changing demands in the dynamic media environment of our society,thereby helping media managers to make a better management policies.
Finally,it will equally serve as a veritable reference tool for future researchers who may be interested in ascertaining how objective NTA Enugu is as a government owned media.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
We the researchers posed the following questions to guide the conduct of this study,which we hope if answered will proffer solutions to this problem.
a)How does NTA Enugu fully or partially dance to the wimps and caprices of the government?
b)What could NTA Enugu do to avoid government’s influence on their news and programmes?
c)To what extent does government ownership affects NTA Enugu’s news and programmes objectivity?
d)What are the possible ways NTA Enugu can use to achieve better results?
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
Ho:NTA Enugu do not fully or partially dance to the wimps and caprices of the government.
Hi:NTA Enugu fully or partially dance to the wimps and caprices of the government.
Ho:NTA Enugu cannot avoid government’s influence on their news and programmes.
Hi:NTA Enugu can avoid government’s influence on their news and programmes.
Ho:There is no significant way Government ownership affects NTA Enugu’s news and programmes’ objectivity.
Hi:There are significant ways Government ownership affects NTA Enugu’s news and programmes objectivity.
Ho:There are no possible ways NTA Enugu can use to achieve better results.
Hi:There are possible ways NTA Enugu can use to achieve better results.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
EFFECTS:conceptually,effect is a change produced by an action or cause. It also means a result.
Operationally,effect refers to the result(s) of government ownership on media objectivity. It also means the outcome of NTA Enugu’s news/programmes as a government owned media.
GOVERNMENT:conceptually,it is the governing body of a nation,state or community.
Operationally,it refers to when the governing body of a nation own,finance,supervise,manage and control the media.
OWNERSHIP:conceptually,it is the legal right to the possession of a thing.it is the act of having and controlling property or the activity of managing or exerting control over something.
Operationally,ownership refers to NTA Enugu being owned by the government of Nigeria. It is completely financed and supervised by the government.
MEDIA:conceptually, it means the print(newspapers,magazines,and journals) and broadcast(television and radio) use to convey information to the public.
Operationally,it means NTA Enugu as a radio media house used as an instrument of propaganda for the government.
OBJECTIVITY:conceptually,it means not influenced by personal feelings or opinions,actual,not dependent on the mind for existence.
Operationally,it refers to NTA Enugu being fair,disinterested,factual and non-partisan in its news coverage and reporting.
INFLUENCE:conceptually,it means the power to produce an effect,especially on character,beliefs or actions,a person or thing with this power.
Operationally,it means NTA Enugu as a government owned medium,using its position as the governing body to decide on what the medium should or should not broadcast.
1.8 SCOPE OF STUDY/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study covers all the activities or programmes broadcast by NTA Enugu,to determine how objective they are. We also want to find out whether their staff enjoy press freedom.
Due to lack of fund and time made available for this study,we could not carry out the study broadly as initially intended. This is to say that the research was carried out at a time the researchers were faced with lots of financial demands,hence we could not broaden the scope of our study.
a)NTA Enugu fully or partially dance to the wimps and caprices of the government.
b)Based on the fact that this station is government owned,it cannot avoid government’s influence on its news and programmes.
c)There are significant ways government ownership of NTA Enugu can affect their news and programmes objectivity.
d)There are possible ways NTA Enugu can use to achieve better results.
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- Mazi Iduka:An article on Nigerian Tribune Newspaper on Thursday,19th april 2
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- Imhoagene Richard: An ariticle written on January 12,2013.