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TV AS AN INSTRUMENT FOR ELECTIONEERING CAMPAIGN IN NIGERIA

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Abstract

The main objective of the study was to assess TV as an instrument for electioneering campaign in the 2023 presidential election. The study was anchored on Agenda Setting Theory to give the study the needed footing. A cross-sectional survey research method was adopted and questionnaires were used to elicit responses from respondents within Lagos Metropolis who were selected using quota sampling technique. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage) and the data were presented with the aid of tables. The study found that a significant portion of the respondents (55.3%) acknowledged NTA Lagos’ role in promoting free and fair elections during the 2023 presidential election. Also, the data indicates that NTA played a crucial role in voters’ education during the 2023 presidential election. Nevertheless, there are indications of perceived bias in NTA Lagos’ coverage of political candidates during the 2023 presidential election. The study recommended that NTA should always uphold the principles of impartiality and balance in its reporting of election campaigns. Equally, NTA should prioritize civic education programs aimed at enhancing voters’ understanding of electoral processes, their rights and responsibilities, and the significance of their participation in shaping the democratic process. Such programs can help combat misinformation and encourage greater voter engagement.


CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

The role of mass media in electioneering campaigns is crucial for democratic societies. Television, as a powerful medium, plays a significant role in shaping public opinion and influencing electoral outcomes.

Without a doubt, television serves as a mass communication tool that reaches a wide and diverse audience. It allows political parties and candidates to disseminate their messages to millions of viewers simultaneously, transcending geographic boundaries. According to a study by Vettehen and Boomgaarden (2017), television advertising during election campaigns has a significant effect on voter turnout and candidate preference. Television’s visual and auditory capabilities enable parties to convey complex messages, evoke emotions, and create an impact on the electorate.

Television plays a vital role in shaping the public’s perception of candidates by projecting their image and personality. Through well-produced campaign advertisements, televised debates, and interviews, candidates can showcase their strengths, expertise, and leadership qualities. A study by Newman and Baumgartner (2019) found that television advertising has a substantial impact on voters’ perceptions of candidates’ credibility and trustworthiness. Television’s visual nature allows candidates to employ body language, facial expressions, and rhetoric to establish a connection with viewers and influence their perceptions.

Also, television exerts significant influence over the public agenda by determining which issues receive attention and how they are framed. Through news coverage and political debates, television channels have the power to highlight specific topics, shape the narrative, and set the tone of public discourse. A study by McCombs and Shaw (2017) revealed that television news plays a crucial role in shaping voters’ perceptions of issue salience and their judgments of candidate performance. Television’s ability to frame political issues can influence voters’ attitudes, preferences, and policy priorities during elections.

It plays a crucial role in educating and engaging voters by providing them with information about candidates, party platforms, and election processes. News programmes, candidate interviews, and televised debates enable voters to gain insights into the policies, ideologies, and qualifications of various candidates. A study by Prior (2018) highlighted that television campaign advertising contribute to voters’ political knowledge, particularly for those with limited prior information. Television serves as a primary platform for political advertising, allowing parties and candidates to reach a vast audience and persuade voters. Political advertisements employ various persuasive techniques, such as emotional appeals, testimonies, and policy comparisons, to sway public opinion.

This research assesses the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as an instrument for electioneering campaigns in the context of the 2023 presidential elections. This study focuses on NTA reaches, contents, and its credibility as all those capable of influencing electorate to have an informed voting-decision and promoting democratic participation in the country. The reach of NTA, as the national broadcaster, makes it a vital instrument for electioneering campaigns.

NTA’s extensive network of terrestrial and satellite transmission enables it to cover a substantial portion of the Nigerian population (Okorie, 2019). According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, television penetration in Nigeria stood at 56% in 2021, indicating the potential of NTA to reach millions of viewers (NCC, 2021). Thus, with this wide reach positions, NTA as a significant platform for political parties and candidates to engage with voters during the 2023 presidential elections.

The content and programming of NTA during electioneering campaigns are essential for informing voters and fostering political discourse. NTA should provide equitable coverage and fair representation of all political parties and candidates to ensure a level playing field. Additionally, the quality of political debates, interviews, and documentaries aired on NTA can contribute to voters’ understanding of the candidates’ positions, policies, and vision for the nation.

However, past criticisms have raised concerns about NTA’s impartiality and bias in its coverage. According to the 2019 report by Amnesty International, NTA exhibited partiality towards the incumbent government during the 2015 and 2019 elections, providing disproportionate coverage to the ruling party (Amnesty International, 2019). To ensure a fair electoral process, NTA should uphold journalistic ethics, balance its coverage, and provide equal opportunities for all candidates to present their views.

The credibility of NTA as a news source is crucial for its effectiveness as an instrument for electioneering campaigns. Trust in the media is a significant factor influencing public opinion and voter behavior (García-Bernardo et al., 2019). NTA must demonstrate transparency, accuracy, and independence in its reporting to earn and maintain public trust.

To enhance its credibility, NTA should establish editorial guidelines that prioritize factual reporting, objective analysis, and diverse perspectives. Additionally, adopting a transparent mechanism for addressing complaints and allegations of bias will reinforce public trust in NTA’s coverage during the 2023 presidential elections. To this end, the research is on the thrust to assess Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as an instrument for Electioneering campaign in the 2023 presidential elections with particular focus on NTA, Channel 5, Lagos and electorate in Lagos Metropolis.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Although, there are lots of empirical studies on the role of television in electioneering process and democracy in general, however, there is no or a very few empirical studies specifically on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as an instrument for  electioneering campaigns in the 2023 presidential elections. The problem of biased coverage by NTA during electioneering campaigns in the previous general elections poses a threat to the fairness and integrity of the electoral process.

Past elections have witnessed allegations of partiality towards the ruling party, resulting in an uneven playing field for political parties and candidates. This bias undermines the principles of democracy and hampers the ability of voters to make informed decisions. Other problem of inadequate and unequal representation of political parties and candidates on NTA during election campaigns is another pressing issue.

However, if certain parties or candidates are given disproportionate airtime or marginalized in favour of others, it can distort public perception and hinder the democratic process. The problem of questionable content quality on NTA during electioneering campaigns in 2015 raises concerns about the depth and accuracy of information provided to voters. The quality of political debates, interviews, and documentaries aired on NTA can significantly impact the electorate’s understanding of candidates’ positions, policy proposals, and the critical issues at stake. Inaccurate or superficial content may contribute to a lack of meaningful engagement, reducing the effectiveness of NTA as an instrument for democratic participation.

The problem of declining credibility and public trust in NTA’s coverage during election campaigns undermines its role as a reliable and impartial news source. When the public perceives bias, lack of transparency, or manipulation of information, it erodes confidence in the electoral process and media institutions. Rebuilding trust is essential to foster an informed electorate and ensure the legitimacy of election outcomes. It is against this background that the study investigates Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as an instrument for Electioneering campaign in the 2023 presidential elections.

 1.3       Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to assess Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as an instrument for Electioneering campaign in the 2023 presidential elections while the specific objectives are:

  1. To examine the role played by NTA in promoting free and fair in the 2023 presidential election.
  2. To determine the extent to which NTA provide unbiased and balanced coverage of all political candidates during the 2023 presidential elections.
  3. To ascertain the impact did NTA’s election coverage have on public opinion and    voter behavior.
  4. To investigate the effectiveness of NTA’s efforts in educating the public about the electoral process and encouraging voter participation.
  5. To find out the main challenge, if any, did the NTA face in providing comprehensive and accurate coverage of the 2023 presidential elections.

1.4       Research Questions

In order to explicate the aforementioned objectives, the listed questions provide answers to the research problem:

  1. What role did the NTA play in promoting free and fair in the 2023 presidential election?
  2. Did the NTA provide unbiased and balanced coverage of all political candidates during the 2023 presidential elections?
  3. What impact did the NTA’s election coverage have on public opinion and voter behaviour?
  4. How effective were the NTA’s efforts in educating the public about the electoral process and encouraging voter participation?
  5. What challenges, if any, did the NTA face in providing comprehensive and accurate coverage of the 2023 presidential elections?

1.5       Scope of the Study

The study which assesses Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as an instrument for Electioneering campaign in the 2023 presidential elections has been narrowed in scope electorates in Lagos metropolis. Thus, the geographical scope of this study shall be within Lagos State. The choice of electorate in Lagos metropolis is due to its proximity to the researcher, inadequate time to study all electorate across the country among other logistics. However, the demographical variables of the respondents electorate in Lagos metropolis before the administration of the data collection instrument.

1.6       Significance of the Study

The assessment of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as an instrument for electioneering campaigns in the 2023 presidential elections holds significant importance due to the following reasons:

Enhancing Democratic Processes: The study will contribute to improving the democratic processes in Nigeria by evaluating the role of NTA in election campaigns. By identifying biases, promoting equitable representation, improving content quality, and rebuilding credibility and public trust, the study can help create a more level playing field, foster informed decision-making, and strengthen the legitimacy of election outcomes.

Promoting Media Accountability: Assessing NTA’s performance as a national broadcaster during electioneering campaigns can contribute to holding media organizations accountable. By identifying any biases or deficiencies in NTA’s coverage, the study can generate awareness and encourage discussions about the role of media in democracy. It can also serve as a basis for constructive dialogue between media organizations, regulatory bodies, and civil society groups to improve media practices and uphold democratic principles.

Empowering the Electorate: The study will benefit the electorate by assessing the quality and depth of political content provided by NTA during election campaigns. By evaluating the information presented to viewers, the study can help identify areas for improvement and encourage NTA to provide more substantive and informative content. This can empower voters with the necessary knowledge and understanding to make informed decisions, leading to a more engaged and active electorate.

Guiding Media Policies and Practices: The findings and recommendations of the study can guide policymakers and stakeholders in developing media policies and practices that foster a fair and transparent electoral process. The study can inform the formulation of guidelines and regulations to promote impartiality, equitable representation, and high-quality content in electioneering campaigns. It can also contribute to discussions on media ethics, transparency, and accountability in the context of elections.

Building Public Trust and Confidence: Rebuilding public trust and confidence in media institutions is crucial for the democratic functioning of any society. By examining the perception of NTA’s credibility and trustworthiness, the study can shed light on the factors influencing public trust in media during election campaigns. The findings can help identify areas for improvement and contribute to efforts to regain public trust, ensuring that media remains a reliable source of information and a facilitator of democratic participation.

1.7       Operational Definition of Terms

Assessment: In this study, assessment refers to the evaluating performance of NTA during the just concluded the 2023 presidential elections.

Nigerian Television Authority (NTA): This is the largest television network in Africa, the signal of television station is received at every nooks and crannies of the country.

Electioneering Campaign: In this study, electioneering campaigns are various efforts to woo voters usually through television campaigns in the just concluded 2023 presidential election.

2023 Presidential Elections: This refers to the just concluded 2023 presidential election.


PROJECT DETAILS:

Format = MS Word, Price = ₦4000, Chapter = 1-5, Pages = 52, References = Yes, Questionnaire =Yes, Table of Contents = Yes and Abstract = Yes


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