ABSTRACT: The research investigated the perception of Network News among Lagos residents with a view to understand and identify the extent at which they watching NTA network news, what drove them, as well as why they preferred other people News at night because it’s one of the more engaging TV shows. The study was supported by the Source Credibility Theory and the Uses and Gratification Theory. A survey research approach was used and response from respondents was obtained using a questionnaire. The data collected were analyzed using frequency and percentage with the aids of SPSS version 20. The study finds out that more than 78% of the respondents watch NTA news at 9 often with 79% like the news. 65% still prefer NTA news yet they watch other stations like AIT, TVC, Channels and STV etc. However, the major factors responsible for their preference for NTA include but not limited to the quality of the newscasters, dressing, pronunciation & intonation, quality news stories and news period. The study recommended that NTA and other national news channels should not only offer news promptly but also socially responsible as a good citizen to prevent put the nation into problem and should be conscious of sensational report that capable of breaking national unity while journalists working either in the government or privately owned media should realize that they are serving the public and not those controlling the apparatus of power.
1.1 Background to the study
Information and communication is a basic human need and for that reason, man has always found a means of satisfying this need. It is believed that no human society can function effectively if there is no exchange of ideas, experiences, and information, etc between and among the people within the society since no man can live in isolation from others.
The earliest forms of trade-media, interpersonal, and group forms of communication had the benefit of being easy to use and did not necessarily need complex technologies. The weaknesses of not being able to reach and communicate to a large audience or expose to it anytime led to the development of mass media such as telegraph (point-to-point communication) newspapers, magazines, radio, and television and to the recent Internet/ICT/ which has helped in broadening the scope of mass communication (Adeniran, 2015).
However, the news is one of the reasons for the existence of newspapers, radio, and television stations because human beings are always interested in knowing happening around them. Television is an audio-visual medium that brings this to the audience better than other means since it presents it in a more realistic way that made it credible and believable by dedicated and seasoned journalists and technology experts who man the gadget of distribution.
Meanwhile, the news is very relative and depends on what one thinks is news. At any given moment, thousands of events occur simultaneously throughout the world. “Many killed in multiple bomb attacks in Yola”, “Serve Nigerians, not my husband, Aishat tells Buhari’s aides,” “Winners pastor kidnapped during prayers in Calabar,” “Buhari wins 2015 election, Jonathan concede defeat, and so on are potential news. However, they do not become news until some reporters give an account of them and presented them through the broadcasting media. In other words, news is the account of an event, not the event itself.
Thus, Ewuola (2014) defines news as a timely and factual account of an event that is of public interest or significance. News is packaged information about new events happening somewhere else. It is not an overstatement that news at night was dominated and monopolized by the NTA until when privatization of broadcasting media by Decree 38 of 1992 during General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime paved the way for the proliferation of private broadcasting media (radio and television) and as a result, the state and federal monopoly and hegemony was truncated because they started competing heavily for the same available audience lead to blocking programming strategy among the stations meaning that news at night are purposively schedule to gain audience attention as over 7 national channels airs their major news at night between 8-10 pm.
Olayinka (2015) posits that people’s exposure to television programmes are determined by their personal preference and gratification in meeting their information need. Some people like sport; so they exposed themselves to sports programmes, the same for the news etc.
Media ownership is another factor that determines the media preference of the people because the owner of the media influences its contents and as a result of this, too much ownership influence may push some people away from such station or medium. For instance, since the broadcast of Real Buhari on NTA and AIT during the 2015 electioneering campaign, many have withdrawn the credibility for the NTA and AIT for the breach of trust.
Another responsible factor leading to news and programme rating, perception, and preference is the social background of people; people who are rich may have access to more than multiple channels for news in their location by watching cable tv via StarTimes and other cable platforms, unlike poor or less privilege who watch only NTA in their states.
Education, some media programmes are designed for the literate i.e. who can understand the certain language of the programmes one such is News at 9 or Night which is designed in the English language to serve many audiences who can understand the English language. Political affiliate, today in our society, politics influences and change our ways of life to a larger extent, thus, many PDP for instance may not like watching NTA believing that it will not carry good stories about their party and cannot paint incumbent government negatively.
Other dictating factors include but are not limited to ethnicity, locations of the people, media contents, and media language. Some of the rival news at night stations are: Channels News = 10 pm, AIT NEWS HOUR= 8:00 pm – 8:30 pm, AIT NEWS HOUR= 8:30 pm – 9:00 pm, TVC =10 pm and STV = 10 pm It is against this background that the research examines audience perception of the NTA network news among Lagos residents among the array of stations offering news at night.
1.2 Problem statement
Much research into television viewership deals with the effects of particular genres on the audience (e.g. Influence of violent programs on adolescent social behavior, the influence of who wants to be a millionaire on students’ academic performance, etc). Results have been well documented in the popular literature (Anastasia, 2012). A less widely known area of research involves determining reasons for viewership or perception of a particular genre or specific show. Research in this area falls under the heading of selective exposure to television (or more generally selective exposure to communication). i.e. what (programmes) and why (reasons) or perception of audience over certain programmes if compared to the one offered by the rival stations.
Some of the factors responsible for people’s certain perceptions and preferences could be attributed to personal preference and gratification in meeting their information needs, media ownership structure, source credibility because the source is the medium, social background, level of education and exposure, religion and political affiliates, ethnicity, locations of the people, media contents and media language among others.
Also, privatization of broadcasting media by Decree 38 of 1992 during General Ibrahim Babangida regime has paved way for the proliferation of private broadcasting media (radio and television) and as a result, the state and federal monopoly and hegemony was truncated because they started competing heavily for the same available audience lead to blocking programming strategy among the stations meaning that news at night are purposively schedule to gain audience attention as over 7 national channels airs their major news at night between 9-10 pm.
Digitalization of the broadcast media is another factor because on the cable television like DSTV, StarTimes, GoTv, Consat etc. There are lots of news channels from Nigeria, Africa and world that compete with the NTA news at night today compared to the past.
Other factor competing with the news at night is the internet penetration particularly social media and news blogs where people particularly youth relied heavily for news and other information this which has brought decline not only in the number of hardcopy newspapers sold daily but has also cause decline in the number of television news consumers in the recent times.
It is against this background that the research examines the perception of NTA network news at night by the Lagos residents among the array of channels available and to proof the claim of the NTA and the largest television network in Africa.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine the extent at which audience in Lagos are watching NTA news at 9 pm.
- To examine whether Lagos prefer NTA news at night to others like channels news, STV, TVC etc
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent are audience in Lagos watching NTA news at 9 pm?
- To what extent are residents of Lagos preferred NTA news at Night to other stations like Channels, STV, TVC?
1.5 Significance of the Study
- The study will help to provide adequate insight to meet the changing demands in the dynamic news media environment of our society hereby helping media managers to make better decisions, planning, and strategies in news gathering, writing, and packaging.
- The study will assist media practitioners to know that its role can make and kill the media industry.
- Another benefit of the study are media owners will know how their action and reaction can cripple the success and public credibility of their media outfit in the case of the AIT and NTA etc during the 2015 electioneering
- Government agencies that are saddled with the responsibility to ensure fairness and media consistency will also see the need to come up with new laws and policies that will reduce ownership influence and other abuse of the media especially in this democratic era so that the public will come to trust such medium since the medium is the message.
- Students and researchers will find this work very interesting to use as reference material for their new research while it will add to the bulk of empirical research available to mass communication, media, and journalism students.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research which examines audience perception of the NTA network news at Night has been narrowed in scope to the audience in Lagos because of the proximity, convenience, time, fund, materials, and other logistics since it will not only be difficult but impossible to study all the broadcast audience in Nigeria. Hence, the demography of respondents such as age, sex, education, marital status, occupation, and others will be studied before the administration of the research tool to the selected respondents to know if any of this influences their media of preference.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
Audience: This refers to the people in Lagos who watch NTA news night.
Perception: This is the degree to which the audience rates the NTA news at 10 when compared with other channels in terms of quality.
NTA Television: It is one of the leading television stations in Nigeria, in fact, it is the acclaimed largest television network in Africa.
News: This refers to how NTA television reports various political, socio-economy, cultural, and other activities in the country and beyond at (9 pm) night.
News at Night: This is one of the major news times that substantial numbers of the audience are expected to be at home watching the news.