ABSTRACT: The objective of this research was to investigate the influence of media ownership on media objectivity with focusing on Channels T V. The research was anchored on Source Credibility Theory and Social Responsibility Theory. The assertion that says he who pays the pipers dictates the tunes agreed more with the outcome of this study because of the controls and influences exercise on journalists especially those working with the private media. A survey research method was 7used while questionnaire was adopted to elicit responses from respondents. Accidental sapling technique was used to select respondents. The data were analyzed in frequency and percentage method. The study find out that journalists working in private owned media are given free hands to operate professionally to some extent compare to those working government. Also, the study finds out that Channels TV is free from ownership influence to a large extent. Based on the conclusions drawn above, the researcher hereby recommended that media owners should not allow the commercial interest to drive them from the media social responsibility expected of it in society. Media owners should allow it employee exercise professionalism in their day to day activities to boost and maintain the media objectivity and credibility of the media because source is the news i.e credibility of the information will be determined by the credibility of the media.
Keywords: Media Ownership
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. Herbert Altschull (2008) cited in Andrew, (2009:36).
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 centres 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 monopolised the broadcast media and use it to propagate its policies, programmes and ideology on Nigeria soil without room for the nationalists to offer any contrary opinion even when 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 then 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).
The 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 (2003:260) 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, (2015:41) cited in Ternakur (2003:236) 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) cited in (Casey, 1960).
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. Similarly, the private media is not left out especially during electioneering campaigns in order to generate enough revenue to lubricate efforts.
Ownership influence on programme content has made many broadcast media outfits to collapse in operations and has also made them to lose their audience grip. This is mostly true of government owned broadcast media. To this end, the research investigated the influence of ownership on media objectivity using Channels TV as reference point.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Ownership of the media house, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the programme quality of the media house since the owner(s) of the media house usually determine the aforementioned factor.
The media ownership has in some ways influenced the media programmes and this has posed problems to journalism as a trade. In this case, the broadcast media have to function in tune with the whims and caprices of the owner(s). Nothing runs the broadcast media practitioner down as having the option of either following the dictates of the owners or face the bitter music of being sacked.
Therefore, the research influence of ownership on media objectivity using Channels TV as reference point with the view to know the extent which the ownership of the channels television channels influence it operations.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine whether journalists working in Channels TV are given free hands to operate professionally.
- To know how free is Channels TV from Ownership control and influence.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent are journalists and staff working in Channels TV are given free hands to operate professionally?
- How free is Channels TV from Ownership control and influence?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Based on the terrain in which media practitioners operate under control of government, this highly instructive work is aimed to enlighten mass media students and generality of the citizen to gain secondary knowledge of how journalists were harassed, intimidated, detained, brutalized and victimized not only under military dictates but also democratic rulers with the assertion that, “he who pays the paper dictates the tunes”.
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.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study which influence of ownership on media objectivity has been narrowed in scope Channels TV Lagos because it will be difficult if not impossible to visit the entire media house in Lagos State. Inadequate fund, time and other logistics are some of the other rationale for limiting the scope of this study Channels TV Lagos.
1.7 Operational Definitions of the Terms
Influence: This refers to the contributions and impact of the ownership on the performance of Channel television which could be positive or negative.
Ownership: This refers to an individual or body own, finance and control mass media.
Media Objectivity: This entails the degree at which news and programmes are gathered, processed and disseminated without hindrances or control from the media owners.