ABSTRACT: The study comparatively investigates the audience perception of NTA & BRTV Maiduguri with a particular focus on University of Maiduguri Students. Perception Theory, Uses and Gratification Theory and Source Credibility Theory served as the study’s foundations in order to provide the study with depth. The research also used a survey research method coupled with a questionnaire to elicit responses from the respondents in UNIMAID. An accidental sampling technique as a non-probability technique was used. The data collected were analyzed in frequency and percentage with the aid of tables. Findings show that many respondents prefer NTA to BRTV because of the programme quality, visual quality, accessibility, and others. It was recommended that journalists working in government owned media stations should realize that they are serving the public and not the state chief executive alone, and so must pay adequate attention to the social responsibility principle of the press.
Keywords: Audience Perception
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Independent press cannot exist and that the news organs are agents of the people who exercise political and economic control. No matter the benevolence of the government, no matter the democratic principles of the society and no matter the advancement of any society, the mass media are usually subjected to some form of control from those who hold and operate the apparatus of power (Andrew, 2009) cited in (Altschull, 2008).
Similarly, there is a common saying with regards to media in general and broadcast media control in particular 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 mass media channel control what the medium broadcasts and how it broadcasts it.
The history of broadcast media ownership in Nigeria can be traced to 1932 when started as part of an experiment by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Lagos as one of the centers around the world, to receive and retransmit British Empire service signals from Daventry, England. This relay system of the BBC was replicated in mainly English-speaking countries across the globe and succeeded in taking BBC news and programmes to many parts of the world. (Andrew, 2009). The colonial monopolized the broadcast media and use it to propagate its policies, programmes, and ideology on Nigerian soil without room for the nationalists to offer any contrary opinion even when the occasion demanded.
Also, Chief Obafemi Awolowo the then Premier of Western Region of Nigeria established the first television station in Nigeria and indeed Africa in 1959. The birth of the Western Nigerian Television (WNTV) has been described as accidental in so far as Chief Awolowo embarked on it due to his inability to use the services of the Federal Radio station to reply to the broadcast of the Governor-General MacPherson over the constitutional matters of 1953 and since then regional broadcasting began and when states were created out of the existing regions state broadcast media were extended (Oyekanmi, 2008).
Control through ownership is a fact of life in every society, but then the nature of this control usually varies greatly, depending upon the public system, the orientation of political leaders in control of state government, the political climates prevailing, the caliber of journalists and other professional communicators (Olayiwola, 2008).
The aim of the government to lord over the press is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, but to all the third world countries. Galadima (2003) says “public office holders believe they can do anything and get away with it as long as they can control media, or get a good journalist to do the dirty job of lying with facts”. Odumegwu Ojukwu also observed thus: When a public office holder does something outlandish, the media sing his praises instead of condemning him than concentrating on more important national or state issues (Hyginus, 2015) cited in (Galadima, 2003).
In a vehement support of Ojukwu’s observation, Hyginus, (2015) cited in Ternakur (2003) describes the Nigerian mass media as “government said” media is not out of place. Government reflects the will and interests of the class that controls the existing mode of production, power bloc and political machinery in their media outfits.
Neither the government nor their media workers ever agree that they misuse the media. Every journalist disassociates himself or herself from the term “propaganda”. In fact, state media is more or less an extension of ministry of information that cannot but support the policies and programmes of government in power while criticism is opposed (Okoye, 2010).
According to Amir (2014) Federal Government of Nigeria media is even fair and decent as compared to their state government-owned counterparts. This is because the ones at the federal level do their bias professionally and systematically. But those in the states do so directly and in broad day light been fully protected by State Governments and ruling parties’ stalwarts. Amir (2014) stressed that state media wouldn’t dare criticize a state governor in a radio or TV station owned by the state government. They spend half of the time which they should have used in airing meaningful programs in singing praises and sycophantic words for state governors and their wives.
It is against this backdrop that the research investigates and compares audience perception and preference of federal government media (Nigerian Television Authority) and state broadcast media in Maiduguri using UNIMAID students as a case study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Broadcast media especially public owned media since it first appearance in Nigeria had been sing praising the power that be, from the colonial dictator to regional government, independence, military dictatorship and to the enthronement of democracy the stories were not different (Olayinka, 2014).
One of the most annoying and disgusting things in Nigeria nowadays is to tune-in to a State publics or Federal publics-owned radio or TV station, this is because most of what is been broadcast is systematically partisan and occasionally one-sided in favour of those that are in power either at the federal level or at the various states. At times, their coverage is directly bias, shamelessly misjudging and unfortunately sycophantic.
Furthermore, when at their best, they only tell the truth half way or they tell it in a systematically partisan and one-sided way to favour the individuals in power and to give people the impression that they are on the right side.
They will only tell you the full and detailed truth in matters that do not concern the people in government or in matters which the people in government have no interest whatsoever. Whereas they will jump at any slight opportunity to exaggerate the good works of government or to expose the faults of perceived government enemies.
The situation with these government-owned media becomes worse during electioneering campaigns where they display their partisanship openly. In the 2015 presidential election, opposition parties particularly APC (then) complaining that NTA refused to air their adverts under the guise that the contents of those adverts are abusive to the president.
However, when Gen. Ibrahim Babangida promulgated Decree 38 in 1992 which sows the seed for the establishment of private broadcast media in Nigeria, it was believed that the imbalance, sing praising of people in power and access to fair and impartial information will come to pass.
In 2015 Presidential Election, the core ethical standards of journalism were eroded and traded in exchange for political benefits from concern political parties by some media organizations (private and government inclusive). Although, some serious minded media organization adhered strictly to the ethical principles of their profession in the face of growing abuse of journalistic etiquette.
It is against this background that the research investigates audience perception and preference of federal government broadcast media (Nigerian Television Authority) and state broadcast media (BRTV) in Maiduguri using UNIMAID students as a case study.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To examine the frequency at which UNIMAID’s students are exposing to television stations in Maiduguri.
- To ascertain whether UNIMAID students prefer NTA to BRTV and vice versa.
- To examine some of the factor(s) that is influencing UNIMAID students’ preference for either NTA or BRTV
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- To what extent do UNIMAID’s students expose to television stations in Maiduguri?
- To what extent do UNIMAID students prefer NTA to BRTV and vice versa?
- What factor(s) influence UNIMAID students’ preference for either NTA or BRTV progrmames?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Research: Limitations of this research will open a door for new research since research is cyclical in nature.
Knowledge: The core significance of the study is to add to the body of knowledge in mass communication and fill the gap in the area of audience preference of private and government broadcast media and reasons for their actions.
Theory: Some relevant theories were put to test to see how relevant they are in explaining the research problem, among the theories are Social Responsibility Media Theory, Democratic Participant Media Theory, Perception Theory, Source Credibility and Agenda Setting Theories respectively.
Policy: i.e Government through its agencies such as National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) that are saddled with the responsibility to ensure fairness and policing of media content should act without fair or favour and checkmating excesses influence of ownership, especially in this democratic era so that the public will come to see media as trustworthy and credible sources of information.
Practice: 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 and practitioners to make better policies. The study will assist media practitioners to know their role in enhancing the success or failure of media industries.
1.7 Delimitation/Scope of the Study
The scope of the study has been narrowed down to National Television Authority and BRTV preference among UNIMAID students in Maiduguri, Borno State. The demographic factors of the students will be considered before the structuring and administration of the research instrument (questionnaire) and such factors include but are not limited to gender, age, marital status, educational level, religion, social status, etc. The findings of this research will not mire despite the scope while the outcome will be generalized.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The researcher will here define some key terms in the topic.
State-owned broadcasting media organization – It means radio or television owned, financed, and controlled by the state government.
The federal government-owned broadcasting media; This is a radio or television station owned, financed, and controlled by the federal government eg NTA
Audience Preference: It refers to the choice of exposure of UNIMAID students to either federal government or state broadcast media.
BRTV: Borno Radio Television
NTA: Nigerian Television Authority