ABSTRACT: The research was set out to examine the challenges of TV broadcasting in a democratic government with a case study of NTA, Jos. It is observed that access to government information is more visible under democratic administration than during military which prohibits the press from accessing government information and as a result of this; the press is able to exercise its constitutional role as stated in chapter 2 sections 22 of the 1999 constitution. The researcher adopted a survey method and NTA, Jos was selected as a case study while a simple random sampling technique was also adopted in selecting respondents. Also, the frequency and percentage method of data analysis was used. It is clear that NTA and other press are able to criticize the government under a democratic government. Press has no access to government information under democracy. It is recommended that media houses and media associations should organize workshops and seminars for their staff on how to make use of the new freedom of information law (FOI) in shaping the practice of journalism in this democratic era.
Keywords: Challenges of TV
1.1 Background to the study
A Virile press is the conscience and voice of the people, it plays and optimizes this role only in an atmosphere of complete freedom termed “press freedom” an atmosphere where ideas, information and opinion are expressed freely without intimidation, fear or favour. Unfortunately, this atmosphere can hardly, if ever, be guaranteed by any form of dictatorship and military dictatorship in particular. These military dictators are only accountable to them and owe nobody any subordination. Alex J.T (2000).
From medieval times, the hallmark of dictatorship anywhere in the world is to whip every segment of society into a streamlined position of society into position of their choice, held rigid with “Iron Bars” and any deviant either by way of thought, speech, act, opinion, or behaviour expressed privately, publicly or secretly is summarily crushed. Using various instruments of intimidation and coercion such as imprisonment, physical assault, confiscation and destruction of properties up to death penalty for “culprit” and members of family including wives and children.
One then appreciates the magnitude of problems facing the Fourth Estate of the Realm from 1985 to 1993 years of military dictatorship which bore in the Herculean task of information educating and mobilizing the populace for and against perceived government ill policies. Journalists all over the world are facing one challenge or the other even in the most civilized nations where freedom of press, expression and democracy has fully enthroned.
The challenges facing newspaper journalists in Nigeria ranging from poor freedom of press or expression, Nigeria political climate, caliber of political leaders, media welfare package, brown envelop syndrome, inadequate journalism background or unprofessional, in adherence to ethical standard of journalism, dependent judiciary, ownership factors among others have restricted and pose lots of challenges to newspaper journalists in achieving effective news coverage.
For the purpose of this research focus is made the press freedom, media ownership, journalistic code or ethical standard and professionalism. Government attempt not only to control but to subjugate the press through obnoxious laws had been an enduring problem in the history of Nigeria Press. The press has been striving to wriggle itself out of these unfavourable laws, but the government believes that giving the press the freedom to operate as an independent entity may be suicidal.
Usually, government feels that it is logical to restrain the power of the press and if possible have a total control of the press. To government, the press is an instrument of people in power and should yield itself to their dictates. But the press fights fiercely to resist this obsequious stance government wants to subject it to because the press belief that they are to serve as watchdog on government and not to be used as government extention of ministry of information or for propaganda tool. This gives rise to clashes between the press and the government. While government uses its authority to subjugate the press, the press resists by remaining tenacious in its fight for freedom.
Government’s truculent reaction to the freedom of the press to report the affairs of government to the public shows that the government always has skeletons in its cupboard and, therefore, would never entertain the prolonged glimpse of the press. The aim of the government to lord over the press is not peculiar to Nigeria alone none to the third world countries but to the entire world except the USA that said it clear in its constitution that “Congress shall make no law that will abridge the freedom of press and expression….”.
Similarly, even when the present administration of President GoodLuck Jonathan calms to have assented freedom of press bill into law many government activities are still restricted for the press, press are not allow to access public document as stated in the constitution, many important meeting are still held in a close door preventing press access.
On the other hand, ownership factor plays a lot on the extent which newspaper journalists could report some news. Control of the press is both internal and external, since there is nucleus of interdependence and co-existence.
There is a common saying with regards to mass media control in Nigeria and elsewhere, which has become a cliché, that “He who pays the piper dictates the tune”. This means that the owners of a press controls what the medium publish and how it publish it.
Ownership of the newspaper, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the contents quality of the newspaper since the owner(s) of the media house usually determine the aforementioned factor. It is also noted that some newspapers that are politically oriented will never carry favorable stories about owners political opponent or party.
It is against this backdrop that the research examines the challenges of television broadcasting in a democratic dispensation (A case study of NTA, Jos)
1.2 Statement of the Problem
From the colonial era to Nigeria’s independence from there to military and civilian regimes, the press has struggled to exist amidst diverse suppressive laws, ordinances, acts and decrees enacted and promulgated at one time or another by different governments.
Today, the Nigerian press exists in a very tenuous position. In the words of Eze (1993:21), “the jeremiad of complaints by the press have fallen on deaf ears of government whose alert and watchful eyes are permanently directed on what the press published with eager hands to censor and equal hostility to attack and arrest the reporters”
Critics adds that the journalists in Nigeria are facing series of challenges in their day to day activities ranging from poor freedom of press or expression, Nigeria political climate, caliber of political leaders, media welfare package, brown envelop syndrome, inadequate journalism background or unprofessional, in adherence to ethical standard of journalism, dependent judiciary, ownership factors among others have restricted and pose lots of challenges to NTA journalists in achieving effective news coverage.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine whether NTA Jos face any challenge in covering news in this democratic dispensation.
- To ascertain the type of challenge(s) facing NTA Jos under democratic system (if any)?
- To examine the extent which the challenge(s) has hindered the programmes and news coverage of NTA Jos.
1.4 Research Questions
- Does NTA Jos face any challenge in covering news in this democratic dispensation?
- What type of challenge(s) facing NTA Jos under democratic system?
- To what extent does the challenge(s) hindering programmes and news coverage of NTA Jos?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The research which examines the challenges of television broadcasting in a democratic dispensation has been narrowed down in scope to the Nigeria Union of Journalists Edo State Chapel since it is very difficult to study all journalists in Nigeria to seek their view on the subject matter. However, the research findings will be generalized on other media houses.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Based on the terrain in which media practitioners operate under control of government and private media ownership this highly instructive work is aimed to enlighten mass media students and generality of the citizen to gain secondary knowledge on the challenges hindering effective news coverage of journalists, how journalists are been harassed, intimidated, detained, brutalized and victimized not only under military dictates but also democratic rulers.
The study will help to provide adequate insight to meet the changing demands in the dynamic media environment of our society hereby helping media managers to make better management politics.
The study will assist the media practitioners to know its role in enhancing the success or failure of media industries.
Other beneficial of the study are media owners who will know how their action and reaction is crippling the success and public credibility of their media outfit.
Future researchers will find this work very interesting to use as a reference material for their new work and see what previous researchers have done.
Government agencies that are saddled with the responsibility to ensure fairness and media consistency will also see the need to come up will new laws that will reduce ownership influence especially in this democratic era so that the public will come to trust such medium.
The study will further help media practitioners the need to fully inculcate and apply new freedom of information law into their daily activities for better gathering and dissemination of factual and balanced information.
Lastly, the research is expected to draw the attention of other researchers, the need to focus on the issues concerning freedom of information especially its application as it had been passed into law for use.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Challenges: It refers to some of the difficulties or problems attached to news reporting that journalists particularly those in television stations are facing.
News coverage: It is the act of reporting news and other informative.
Journalists: These are the people working in a television firm either as a reporter, editor, newscaster or other.
Television broadcasting: It refers to an audiovisual means of dissemination of information to a wide and large audience such as NTA.
Freedom: It is a special privileged or right of access or the right to act or speak freely given to the press by the constitution.
Democratic dispensation: this refers to the period where people of Nigeria elect their representatives through ballot like what we are now.