ABSTRACT: The flexibility of radio and television especially in this political mediated era makes broadcast media a unique tool in reaching diverse electorates and it is on this notion that this study examined broadcast media and political communication. A survey research method was adopted coupled with 50 copies of questionnaires that were printed and administered to the respondents within Auchi Township in which 45 copies were returned. The data were analyzed using the frequency and percentage method. The research findings showed that mass media especially broadcast media provides an avenue for the citizens to get information about political activities, it did educate and sensitize masses on various activities such as voter card registration, how to handle voter’s card, what to wear during an election, how to participate in political rally and campaign, to the activities on election day, coverage of election results, coverage of post-election activities like violence and tribunal. It is therefore recommended that broadcast media should be free from a few influential politicians to avoid turning the media into tools of propaganda.
Keywords: Political Communication
INTRODUCTION: Political communication is various ways by which political messages are shared with the voters in order to gain their support for a particular candidate or party for the purpose of winning an elective position. Political participation and election is a process through which individuals or groups of citizens get involved in choosing their leaders to enhance effective governance and societal welfare. Participation can come in form of voting, participation in rallies, contesting, partnership, among others.
Chudi-Oji (2013) posits that to embark on this task of electing leaders, people must be mobilized in order to get enlightened via enlightenment campaigns, sensitization, information dissemination and advocacy programmes directed at community leaders, age grades, development associations, opinion leaders, artisans and other grassroots movements in order to increase their awareness and foster attitudinal change towards active involvement and participation in politics. All these communications are tagged political communication and are enhanced by the mass media especially radio which is a medium of all ages.
Democracy which stands as the most widely embraced system in politics and governance meaning “Rule by the people,” which implies direct participation and representative terms of rule by the people. But, in most communities, many people are still showing apathy, alienated, indifference to political participation, especially countries populated by businessmen. However, the more information, education and enlightenment on the importance of politics, the more interest, less apathy and determination in participating in it.
Therefore, mass media particularly radio and television play a crucial role in fostering an environment of good governance and political awareness in society. As the watchdog and interpreter of public issues and events, the media has a special role in every society.
Goodman (2010) opines that democracy can neither be sustainable becomes strong without a free press while press freedom can not be possible without democracy. The press must, therefore, remain ever vigilant to protect and enforce people’s freedom of thought and expression and citizens’ right to all information relating to the various aspects of their life and future.
In the course of an election, messages that encourage goodwill and harmony among all the ethnic groups, religions, genders, cultures, languages and communities should be broadcast on broadcast media. Some of the roles that radio and television stations played before, during and after the 2019 General elections in Nigeria include but are not limited to the following:
It worked with security agencies in order to prevent rigging and other electoral, it provided a medium for transmitting political education to the populace such as how, where and why the electorate needs to collect their PVC before an election, it informed the electorate on how to conduct themselves before, during and after, it alerted the security agencies in cases of crisis loom and it organizes forum where political issues are debated such as “ Nigeria Decides”.
There are problems of apathy, indifference or alienation on the part of the people towards participating in politics. Most citizens show no interest and do not contribute their quota to political issues due to violence, assassination, rigging, e.t.c that is rocking the political system in Nigeria. In fact, many refer to Nigeria political arena as immature compared to the developed nations of the world. Other factors that daunt participation is unfulfilled and deceit in political promises and manifestoes by political parties.
Also, although, lots of studies have been conducted on the role of broadcast media in political communication in the previous elections in Nigeria little or few studies has been conducted on the 2019 general election because of its recency and it is against this background that this paper is examining political communication and broadcast media coverage of the 2019 General Election.
Objectives of the Study
- To examine the extent to which broadcast media gave prominence to the 2019 General Election.
- To ascertain whether broadcast media educated and mobilized voters in Auchi on their civic responsibilities.
- To what extent did broadcast media give prominence to the 2019 General Election?
- To what extent did broadcast media educate and mobilize voters in Auchi on their civic responsibilities?
Scope of the Study
The paper which examines political communication and broadcast media coverage of the 2019 General Election has been narrowed in scope to Auchi town in Edo state due to inadequate time, funds and other logistics.