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IMPACT OF PRIVATE BROADCASTING STATIONS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF TARGET AREAS: A CASE STUDY OF AIT/RAYPOWER STATIONS PORT HARCOURT

MASS COMMUNICATION PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS

IMPACT OF PRIVATE BROADCASTING STATIONS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF TARGET AREAS: A CASE STUDY OF AIT/RAYPOWER STATIONS PORT HARCOURT

 

ABSTRACT

This study is an attempt at finding out the impact of private broadcasting stations in the development of target areas with the twin stations in the stable of Daar Communications Limited, the Africa Independent Television and Raypower 100.5 FM Port Harcourt providing the case study.

As a study in the aspect of media effect, the Survey Design was used to ascertain the peoples’ perception and rating of the various aspects of the stations’ programme as they concern their development needs.

The population of the study consisted of the residents of the two Local Government Areas that make up Port Harcourt (Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor) which from a sort of cluster. Out of these, a sample size of 300 was randomly selected and the instrument for data collection was administered on them.

From the data collected and analyzed various findings were made. These findings can be summarized by saying that although the stations are doing well s far as the development needs of their target areas are concerned, there is a great need for adequate partnership between these stations and their target areas on the one side as well as these two and both the Government and corporate concerns on the other. This will go a long way in fostering genuine and sustainable development.

It is only when this is done that the media can be said to be actually and adequately fulfilling their responsibilities of educating, informing and entertaining their audience in these areas.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study.

The three fundamental roles of the mass media are educating, informing and entertaining the audience.

Many scholars have not only opined but have also reached a seeming conclusion that the mass media hold a prominent place in performing the afore-mentioned functions which go a long way to generating a self-conscious and self-sustaining populace.

Believing that an educated, informed and well entertained populace is the springboard for any authentic development, there is no gainsaying the fact that the broadcast media remain indispensable for any development effort to worth its while.

Giving credence to the above assertion, Carther and Kenny (2003.1) observe that broadcasting has an important role to play in development — as a widespread tool for information transfer, as an important economic sector in its own right, and as a potential access point to new information and communication technology.

Corroborating the above view, the information paper on an Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) (2003.1) observes that there is a clear consensus that broadcasting can play a key role in shaping development outcomes in Africa.

How can this be done and the desired dividends delivered? The paper posits that broadcast stations and indeed broadcasters have a primary role to play hence it challenges that the ball is now in the court of broadcasters in Africa together with their partners to place issues of poverty and development at the forefront of the broadcast agenda, to keep these issues in the spotlight and to demonstrate that broadcasting can tangibly influence development.

What this portends therefore is that by bringing the issues of poverty, illiteracy and other social handicaps to the front burner, broadcasting stations are paving the way and contributing immensely to the development efforts of the society.

Udeajah, (2004:13) states that the electronic media of mass communication have been regarded as very important for political, economical and educational advancement in every society.

Development is a function of the information available to the populace of any society; but information is useless until it gets to the audience that will put it into concrete use. The extent of use to which this available information is put depends on when and how the target audience gets it and to what extent they understand it. This is another way of agreeing with the Laswellian postulation that the most convenient and simplest way of understanding communication is to answer the questions:

Who?

Says What?

To whom?

In what Channel?

With What Effect?

Amoako (2003: 12) rightly observes that we now live in an information age, where the capacity to acquire and share knowledge is seen as key to economic growth and development.., related to this we believe that through sustained advocacy based on accurate and contextualized content, an active and proactive media can help bring about positive development outcomes in Africa.

Summarizing this position of the broadcast media in fostering development, Jaboru (2002:11) observes inter alia: … information leads to knowledge and knowledge is a condition for development. An information-literate populace has a higher chance of increasing its standard of living than one that is not; hence the conclusion by a UNESCO publication on the Asia Media Summit, (2005:1) that broadcasting is crucial to development.

After many decades of government monopoly of the ownership of broadcast stations in Nigeria, the Babangida administration deregulated this all important sector in 1992. With this development Nigeria broadcast firmament experienced a burst of various bubbles in the form of private stations. This boom gave rise to a galaxy of privately owned stations that were licensed to add more beauty, colour and charm to the broadcast industry thereby satisfying the hunger and thirst of Nigerians for a more robust, competitive and better broadcast sector.

One of such privately owned companies that got the nod of the military government to go into private broadcasting is Daar Communications Limited. From the stables of this company sprouted two stations — the Africa Independent Television (AlT) which is the television arm and Raypower 100FM which is the radio arm.

These twin stations hit the Nigerian airwaves with quality and better broadcast in 1994 and 1996 respectively in Lagos. Following the successes trailing their performance in Lagos, coupled with the class of license granted them, they went ahead to build the second broadcast network in Nigeria after the Federal Government-owned Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). This saw the coming on stream of their stations in Abuja,, Kaduna and Kano.

In 2003, they extended their reach to Port Harcourt, Rivers State which is the oil capital of Nigeria and the rallying point of the south-south geo-political zone, by establishing both the radio and television stations there.

According to Udeajah (2004:363) the mission of AlT for instance seeks to emphasize development issues and methodically promote the reduction of tension andfriction to achieve global harmony. Ugwu (2000.34) reports that the chairman of Daar Communications Limited, Raymond Dokpesi stated at the inception of the stations that with the coming of Africa Independent Television and other ancillary stations… a major step forward has’ been taken to bridge the growing gap in the world information order which continues to place Nigeria and Africa at the n4hless’ mercy of western propaganda and viewpoints. This position seems to also imply that the advent of these stations will not only bring about the development of Nigeria (through their target communities) but at the same time put these in their right perspectives and project them to the world at large.

With almost three years gone, one is tempted to ask; to what extent have the private stations impacted on the lives of their target communities in terms of their overall development? The attempt to answer this question along the lines of some possible concomitant offshoots is the crux of this research.

1.2       Statement of Problem

Deregulating the broadcast industry is not an end in itself but a means to some salient ends. Licensing and establishing private broadcast stations also is not an end. These policy actions or intentions can only be said to be achieving some ends when they readily and continuously impact positively on the lives of their target audiences. What this translates to is that the success or otherwise of all these can only be measured in terms of the extent to which they bring about developmental results that are not only tangible but also beneficial to the individual recipients in particular and the nation in general.

To what extent have the Dear Communications outfits in Port Harcourt, succeeded in achieving the above objectives? How have they fostered meaningful individual and societal developments in the lives of their target populace? What educational, entertainment and information development have the target people and communities recorded? How do the people (audience) rate the development impact derived from the stations? The specific problem of this study is therefore trying to answer the question, what roles have the two study stations played in promoting the development of their target areas?

 

1.3       Objectives of the Study.

This study has the following guiding objectives:

  • To determine the impact of Ray Power/AlT on the Development of the audience.
  • To analyze the audience’s views on how the two Stations have advanced their knowledge and other skills in relation to their development.
  • To outline the areas of strengths and weakness of these stations with a view to suggesting areas to be improved upon.

1.4       Research Questions

The following research questions will guide this study.

  1. What is the respondents’ awareness level about the existence of the two study stations and what is their frequency of listenership/viewership?
  2. Which programmes of the stations promote development goals and how have these impacted on the respondents’ overall development?
  3. How do the respondents rate the overall performance of the stations as regards their development needs?
  4. What areas do the respondents want the stations to improve upon?

1.5       Significance of the Study

This study is significant in the following ways:

  1. Perhaps this is the first scientific study of the impact of the stations on the development of their target areas in this part of Nigeria.
  2. This study is also an aspect of media-effect research and as such brings to the fore the need for constant evaluation of the impacts of broadcast stations on their target audiences.
  3. This study is also significant because it will provide scientifically reliable feedback data on the strengths and weaknesses of the study-stations’ programmes, a vital tool for improved content, presentation and other issues.

These and other ancillary derivable benefits will no doubt add to available literature and data in the field of mass communication in general and the electronic sub-stratum in particular.

1.6       Limitations of the Study

This study may be limited by lack of materials in this area since private broadcast stations are relatively new/young in Nigeria. Also the diverse nature of the audience will make study sample selection, instrument administration, data collection analysis and interpretation a bit cumbersome.

Lastly, as an individual effort coupled with the harsh economic realities and exigencies of present day Nigeria, finance and other logistics may pose some portent limitations. All the same, ways will be creatively found to circumvent most, if not all of these limitations.

1.7       Theoretical Framework.

In order to situate and align any study within its proper perspective, there is a need for existing theories that will form the pivot on which the study revolves. For this study, the development media theory is the bedrock and as such forms its fulcrum.

The origin of this theory can be traced to the UNESCO International Commission for the study of communication problems.

Agbo, (2003:25) posits that the development media theory is a new addition to the already existing theories. To him this addition was a product of the realization that none of the theories that existed before it adequately accounts for the operations of the media in the developing countries of the world.The need for such a theory according to him is due to the fact that these developing nations have some peculiar circumstances (indices) that make the application of the older theories difficult.

The main postulation of this theory is that the press system of especially developing nations should recognize, promote and publish or broadcast stories that aid and complement the social-political and economic development of the society or country in which they operate. In other words they are expected to be partners with government and other social institutions in achieving rural and national objectives in the country where they operate….

Taking this a little further, one is apt to say without fear of contradiction that the press (which the private broadcast stations are part of) must be, not only co-creators of development efforts but genuine and committed agents of development in their target areas.

Agbo, (2003:25) summarizes this by observing that the development media theory is hinged on perception of the press as a powerful instrument that can be used to achieve development in any society. Relying on the works of Mc Quail (1987) he concludes that this theory among other things should be capable of and actually harnessing positive development tasks with established national goals, the need for objective restriction or control to ensure that the media and their roles are in tandem with the development needs of their target areas (society) as well as the need for an international alignment or cohesion among developing societies with regards to news and information that can boost development.

Translated in development perspective, the media exerts some positive or otherwise reaction from the target audience for any information disseminated. Hence, if the information in question is development-targeted., development or lack of it must be achieved at the end of the process.

Another theory that is significant to this study is the development media theory. According to Okoro and Agbo, (2003:25) this theory emanated from the inability of the already existing theories to account for the operations of the media in the developing countries. This is because these developing nations have peculiarities and indices that make it difficult for the already existing theories to be properly and adequately applied to them. These they outlined as follows:

– Limited supply of essential communication infrastructure

– limited availability of requisite professional’ skill

– Limited cultural production resources

– limited availability of literate media audience

– Over dependence on the developed world for technology, skills and cultural products.

While agreeing with the above postulations, Konkwo, (1997:179) writes thatthe mass media under this theory is used in promoting social and economic development with the objective of achieving national integration.

The last theory that will help in lending theoretical guidance to this study is the Democratic-Participant Theory. This theory according to Okoro and Agbo (2003:27) is hinged on the insistence that the present bureaucracy as well as commercial and professional hegemony in the media be broken down so as to guarantee easier media access for all users and consumers.

According to them this theory is a concomitant effect of peoples’ disappointment with media systems that are hijacked by the elites thereby making them (media systems) over concentrated and monopolized by this new category of people. In these words, proponents of this theory favour pluralism as against centralism and horizontal flow of communication as against” top-down “flow of communication.

Although not fully legitimized or incorporated into the operating norms of any media institutions, they concluded that this can best be regarded as the normative theory of the future.

The place of this theory in this study can be seen in the need for a more collaborative and audience-participation approach presently needed in programme conception, planning, organization and evaluation. This is because of the fact that if communication must flow horizontally, then it must be that constant cross-flow of information where there is no permanent sender or receiver.

1.8       Conceptual Framework

A clear understanding of major concepts in any study goes a long way in illuminating the readers’ views by engendering better comprehension.

Broadcasting seems a simple and popular concept. This situation arises from the fact that since the later part of the 19th century, it has been experiencing varied advancements and changes both in terms of quality and quantity of content, professional tools for delivering them as well as organizational check. But a generalized assumption that it is well understood or conceptualized by a good majority might be misleading.

From a semantic view point, the Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as cast or scattered in all directions; made public by means of radio or television; of or relation to radio or television broadcasting.., the art or transmitting sound or images by radio or television.

Udeajah, (2004.3) writes that the term broadcasting expresses the idea of scattered dissemination to anonymous undefined destination, made up of listeners and viewers.

Broadcasting therefore is the process of sending information (which can be audio or both audio and video) to heterogeneous audiences electronically through the air waves. From this point of view, broadcasting can be construed as a mere technical process. But this view can be deceptive and not true in its entirety. Broadcasting apart from having the technical process component also entails some other intervening variables such as being purposeful, instantaneous, topical and versatile.

Since all information emanating from the broadcast house/personnel must serve some already predetermined and other outcomes, it is therefore pivotal that the content, technique, style and channel of disseminating such information be adequately controlled and managed. Therefore without any intention to deviate from the purview of this section, three types of broadcast station ownership have been identified as adopted in many countries. These are State or Government owned, Private owned and Community owned.

In all the afore-mentioned ownership modes, the government still has a major role to play as it is her responsibility to grant license, allocate frequency, monitor and control these stations.

In the context of this study therefore private broadcast stations is considered as those broadcast stations that are wholly owned, operated and managed by an individual or group of individuals but still under the constant monitoring, supervision and control of the government either directly or through some regulatoryagencies. Private broadcast stations are self sustaining and as such are profit oriented.

Community broadcasting according to the media rights monitor is purely public service in nature, grass root based, cheap to acquire, sustain and maintain such that their host communities can identify with them.

Development is another important concept in the study topic that needs to be placed in its rightful conceptual perspective. As any other social science concept, this term has been subjected to different shades, scopes and depths of meaning. This definitional confusion is a function of the fact that as beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder the area of interest of the people proffering these variegated definitions influence the meaning ascribed to it. In line with this situation, scholars and researchers alike have attempted to define development from sociological, educational, psychological, economic, agricultural, technological and other perceptions. A brief look at some of these definitions will go a long way in shaping the concept as it adequately suits this study.

Boafo, (1991:2) while elaborating on the works of Inayatullah says that development refers to “ change toward patterns of society that allow better realization of human values, that allow a society to great control over its environmental and over its political duties and that enables its individuals, to gain increased control over themselves”

Also reporting the definition of Kleinjans, he writes that development ultimately is not a matter of technological or gross national product, but the attainment of new knowledge skills, the growth of a new consciousness, the extension of the human development.

Rogers, cited in Nwabueze, (2005:3) defines development as a widely participatory process of social change as a society intends to bring about social and material advancement for the majority of people through their gaining control over their environment.

Development therefore involves the invention, introduction or provision of needed opportunities for the full exploitation of the human endowment with the ultimate aim of improving man’s lot or control over his affairs and environment. All these, in the end translate to improved living conditions, greater and more active participation in his world and most importantly a greater and better understanding of himself, his environment and his potentials through conscious and ordered efforts.

Development when looked from the purview of goal, process, planned integrated process, end as well as a means to an end shows that the underlying aim is a shift from what is to what ought to be, a positive movement towards the perceived ideal state of things, this view point is why most people believe that development should be people centered instead of project or extraneous variables centered. Put in another way development should work with and not for the people.

Since man is the subject and not object of development, many international appendices such as the United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO, WHO, World Bank etc have given diverse targets, goal, approaches and benchmarks for development in any society.

The convergence of all these definitions, approaches, goals etc is that they all revolve around man, his environment and the enhancement and control of his existence. This therefore means that for any broadcast station to be in line with development it must ensure that the content, context and delivery mechanisms of her programmes are not only people oriented but also people based and partnered. This calls for a participatory approach to programme conception, development, delivery, monitoring and evaluation.

These programmes can center on part or the whole gamut of human life. These include health, education, political, skills acquisition economy, agriculture, popular participation, social mobilization culture & tradition, cultural preservation and mission, arts, trade, crafts etc.

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