the challenges confronting privately owned media stations in a democratic dispensation in nigeria
1.1 Background of the Study
Media as a watchdog and the mirror of the nation perform crucial roles in the society and as well it is influence in its editorial policy. Kendal (2002,p.32), insist that mass is truly applicable to the medium of radio for it more than other media in reaching all groups of the population uniform’’ but before we proceed with this work, we will include not only the mechanical devices that transmit and sometimes, messages (TV cameras, radio microphones, printing press) but also the institution that use these machines to transmit messages. When we talk about the mass media of television, radio, newspaper, magazine, sound recoding and film, we will be referring to the people, the policies the organization and the technology that go into productions of mass communication (Dominick, 2007).
Mass media are technology that is intended to reach a mass audience. It is the primary means of communication used to reach the vast majority of the general public. The most common platforms for mass media are newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet (Ngoa, 2006). The general public typically relies on the mass media to provide information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment, and news in pop culture.
Through mass media, news outlets have a major influence on the general public and a major impact on the public’s opinion on certain topics. In many cases, the mass media is the only source that the general public relies on for news. For example, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, mass media made it possible for the public to witness this historical event.
Sponsorship of the media house, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the editorial policy of the media house since the owner(s) of the media house usually does or do the afore-stated factors (Nordenstreng, 2005). The media ownership has therefore in some ways influenced the editorial policy and this has posed problems to journalism as a trade. In this case, the editorial writing has to function with the policy framework and editorial principles. Nothing runs the editor down as having the option of either doing it the way the policy dictates or he resigns or otherwise sacked. Influence of media ownership on editorial policy have made many private owned media station to collapse in operations and have also made them to lose their readership grip (Nordenstreng, 2005). In the case of a Announcer Newspapers, as a privately owned Newspaper, if dies not have so many policies that usually affect its readership except that its front and back page stories are centered on Imo state. Often times, it faces the stiff competition of the national and other local newspapers. Again, people from other state would always see the purchase of the newspaper as a waste since it does not usually spread its tentacles.
According to Uche, (2009,p.56). The owners of the media in Nigeria are not only major capitalists in their own right but are also closely linked to the ruling circles around the globe. Further more, result Indicates that the current media ownership pattern in Nigeria negatively affects the ability of the media to perform without hindrance. This is exemplified by the situation where media practitioners working in both private and public media organizations make sure that their reports are not perceived as ‘unfavorable’ by the government of the day.
The reality is that public media which are financed with public funds and controlled by public officials do not criticize government actions or inactions because of fear of sanctions (Uche, 2009). Many media executives in the public media have been known to lose their jobs because they disagreed with government officials. Some private media outfits established by associates of public officials indirectly influence the running of private media out fits.
“He who pays the piper calls the tune’’ is a common statement in the media. Ownership has being a major challenge in the editorial policies of media organisations. It is so bad in some media organisations that the ethics of journalism are exchanged with the opinions and decisions of the proprietors of the organisation. Dare (2000,p.22) while writing on the challenges of privately owned media stations said, “ there is no doubt that owners in market based media have ultimate power over content and can ask for what they want to be included or left.” This is against the ethics of journalism.
According to Dominick, (2007,p.12) “There are codes of good practise that govern how media controllers (editor and station managers) interact as laid out by regulatory bodies.” But how many media owners stick to these codes? In Nigeria, government has continuously used the state owned media to crush the voice of the opposition. Many governments have used these media to their advantage during presidential elections campaigns across the state, especially if the government in power is contesting. In such cases, the opposition would have to turn to God for a miracle. Melody in Meier, stated that “in addition to ownership concentration of the mass media industry, content provision, packaging and distribution have also become a standardised production and marketing process in which the messages communicated are contained and directed in both quantity and quality to meet the economic imperatives of media owners.” Giddens (2009,p.5) said, “The media have a double relation to democracy. On the one hand the emergence of a global information society is a powerful democratising force. Yet, television and the other media, tend to destroy the very public.” Within the context of supporting democratic transitions, the goal of media development generally should be to move the media from one that is directed or even overtly controlled by government or private interests to one that is more open and has a degree of editorial independence that serves the public interest.
Omu, (2000,p.9) stated that “the earlier mass media of press and broadcasting were widely seen as beneficial (even necessary) from the conduct of democratic politics.” Considering the fact that those who have the resources to own media organisations will always have the upper hand in terms of prominence in the news, McQuail (2009,p;.76) said “the typical organisation and forms of mass communication limit access and discourage active participation and dialogue.” Government control of print and broadcast media in Nigeria leave little scope for discussing opinions and therefore, public debate.
According to Mtimbe (2011,p.69), “The Charter called for : the emergence of a new era in Africa – an Africa in which democracy, accountability, economic justice and development for transformation become internalised and the empowerment of the people, initiative and enterprise and the democratisation of the development process are the order of the day.” While in some countries, the antagonistic relationship between government and the media helps in shaping the democracies of these countries, it is not so in most African countries, where most governments see criticisms from the media, no matter how constructive they may sound as a direct attack on their administration. As a result of this perception, most of these administrations have devised means to curtail the excesses of the media which in most cases are against the fundamental human rights on freedom of expression. Journalists within these countries have been sent to jail, or detained without trial or even beaten up or humiliated by wives and families (direct and indirect) of these leaders. In fact, some media houses have even been forced to close down because of remarks made that sound unpalatable to the administration in power. Ocitti (2002,p.88) said, “to African leaders, however, the freedom the media was demanding was to be placed within their own power positions and a wider context of national unity.” Hence, governments in power spend money on media houses and those who do not have any invest heavily to have one on ground so that they would use such media as tools of propaganda and image making to cover for poor performance in office.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Influence of media ownership on editorial policy have made many broadcast stations to collapse in operations and have also made them to lose their readership grip. Sponsorship of the media house, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the editorial policy of the media house since the owner(s) of the media house usually does or do the afore-stated factors. The media ownership has therefore in some ways influenced the editorial policy and this has posed problems to journalism as a trade. The problem necessitating this study is what are the challenges confronting privately owned media stations in a democratic dispensation.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are stated as follows:
i. To examine the challenges facing private owned media stations in Nigeria
ii. To find out how the ownership management and control affects and influence the traditional objectivity of news and information dissemination in Nigeria.
iii. To examine the achievement of private owned media in Nigeria
iv. To proffer solution to this challenges
1.4 Research Questions
i. What are the challenges facing private owned media stations in Nigeria?
ii. To what extent does ownership management and control affects and influence the traditional objectivity of news and information dissemination?
iii. What are the achievements of private owned media in Nigeria?
iv. What are the solution to this challenges?
1.5 Significance of Study
This study would serve as guide to private media houses as the see the solution of some challenges confronting media houses. It would also be a reference material for research scholars who might want to research further on the concept under study. The study would also serve as reference point for policy makers who would be interested in knowing how editorials can assist in the process of policy making in government.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study would attempt to explain the challenges confronting privately owned media stations in a democratic dispensation in Nigeria with reference to African Independent Television (AIT) Benin City.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
One of the major problems encountered by the researcher is the monetary problem. There was no sufficient money to make the purchasing of all necessary materials for the research work. There was also the problem of meeting some personalities to get information from them. Because of that, the researcher found it difficult to collect all the necessary information. Time on the other hand was a big limitation as the researcher has other lectures to attend alongside the project report.
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