1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The role of television, as a mass medium, in the democratization process is understood within the context of public sphere, defined by Habermas (2012) as “organs of information and political debates such as newspapers, journals as well as institutions of political discussion such as parliament, political clubs, literary salons, public assemblies, pubs, coffee houses, meeting halls and other public space where socio-political discussion took place.” Television, just like other media of mass communication, is intended in a democratic setting to provide a space that mediates between civil society and the realm of power. Television thus creates a forum for open discussion of all issues of public concern during which discursive argumentation is employed to ensure public good (Isola, 2010). This presupposes that television in a democracy should operate along the principle of freedom of speech and expression. This enables the people the right to freely participate in political debate and discussion making, which is central to democracy. This argument that freedom of speech and of the press is necessary for political participation in a democracy is the position of several research findings in political communication (Becker, McCombs & McLeod, 2016: Entman, 2012; Van Belle 2013). Among the three factors that sustain democracy, as identified by Diamond (2014), is civil society, which include the mass media, of which television is a part. The other two are political culture and political institutions. Among the mass media, television with its unique advantages of impact (audible like radio and visible like print), selectivity and flexibility, exerts tremendous influence on the democratization process for good or for bad. Former President De-Gaulle of France once asked former President John Kennedy of the United States of America: “How can you control your country if you don’t control television” (cited in Agbanu & Nwammuo, 2009). In a similar vein, television is arguably one of the most frequently used means of communication in a democracy. While success or failure of democracy cannot be reduced to issues of television, Rajagopal (2016) maintains that concern for democracy necessitates a concern about television. Hence, to advance the process of democratization, television is expected to discharge certain roles, which include the following, as given by Isola (2010): (1) surveillance of contemporary events that are likely to affect citizens positively, (2) identification of key socio-political issues, (3) provision of platforms for advocacy for causes and interests, (4) transmission of diverse contents across the various dimensions and factions of political discourse, (5) scrutiny of government officials, their institutions and other agencies, (6) giving incentives and information to allow citizens to become actively informed participants rather than spectators, (7) provision of principled resistance to external forces attempting to subvert media autonomy, and (8) respectful consideration of the audience as potentially concerned, sense-making efficacious citizens. These functions suggest that television in a democracy is expected to be a vigilant watchdog of public interest and under no circumstance should it demean itself into acting as lapdogs for establishment. It should not only be a mirror that reflects the face of the democracy, the beauty spots and the warts (Dukor, 2015), it should also be a voice of advocacy for the collective good of the society. In this regard, television in an emerging democracy like Nigeria should, as noted by Pate (2011), be answerable to the various constituencies that depend on it for information, education and direction on the functioning of the democratic system, it should strengthen its mediating role through increased interactions among the various parties and stakeholders in the democratization process; it should ensure that the conduct of each of the stakeholders is in conformity with public interest, and it has a responsibility to stamp some element of legitimacy on the democratic credentials of the stakeholders by publicly justifying their actions or inactions that are good or bad to the democratization process. Television broadcasting in Nigeria emerged as a product of democratic effort, and was meant to foster the democratization process in Nigeria. This article examines the role of television broadcasting in Nigeria’s attempt at democratization. The examination explores the performances of television broadcasting under military and civilian governments, pointing out the areas of success and challenge, as well as suggesting a way forward in an attempt to have television broadcasting contribute meaningfully to the democratization process in Nigeria. The rationale is to contribute to the ongoing brainstorming exercise of stocktaking on the role of television in the political development of Nigeria over 50 years after its establishment. The brainstorming exercise, it is hoped, would lead to some solution to the political problems of Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. The exercise, it is also hoped, would offer useful insight into the operations of television broadcasting for the advancement of democratic governance and culture.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Television as a form of mass communication has continued to attract significant level of recognition in the development of the society and social interactions. Studies indicate that more people use television as a source of news than any other medium today (Moemeka, 1973; Okigbo 2009) because of its advantage of combining audio and visual effects. In Nigeria, the structure of ownership of broadcast stations has predominance of government and sole proprietorship of immense wealth, which have partisan political and economic agenda and interest (Golding, 1977). In certain cases, the managers are mere front- professionals for the real owners, including foreigners (Oyovbaire 2016). Here, the station not only serves the professional role and mandate assigned to it by the constitution and society but also the political agenda, objectives and motivations of the owners. Such owners see their medium as the political extension of their economic powers, as well as possible ladder for political power or influence. Broadcasting, unlike the press, extends to the rural areas, delivers news, information, and messages in vernacular and is not conditional on literacy. Handled properly, broadcasting, especially public broadcasting, can, in addition to its traditional role, deepen and strengthen democratization, by making information widely accessible, by educating and enlightening the citizens about the utility of participation and also making the citizens well informed and engaged with the political and governance processes, and by facilitating the holding of political leaders and government(s) accountable. Broadcasting can promote democratic values and help engender democratic re-awakening. If, on the contrary, handled poorly, broadcasting can be hijacked and used by vested interests to undermine and subvert the democratization process. Vested interests can, as Sherman and Chomsky have noted, use their control to “shape news and information before it is disseminated to the public”, and make it run “counter to the democratic ideals of a free press” under liberal democracy (2011). The extent to which broadcasting plays a positive public role in the democratization process of a country depends on: how deeply engrained the philosophy and values of public service broadcasting are; how insulated it is from the influence of commercial and other vested interests, how relatively independent it is of government control and influence, how diverse and plural it is; and how transparently regulated it is, using a clear and popular/public oriented legal framework. For Akinfeleye (1987), the Nigerian media is still controlled by the government in power. There is no freedom of information act in the Nigerian constitution. Under the fundamental objectives and principles of state policy, section 21 of 2013 constitution compels the Nigerian press to monitor the governance and make the government accountable to the people. In the broadcast media, its roles can never be forgotten in Nigerian democracy. There are some challenges facing television broadcasting in this democracy dispensation which will be looked into.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine challenges of television broadcasting in a democratic dispensation. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01: There is no significant effect of these challenges on national development in Nigeria.
H02: There is no significant relationship between television broadcasting and sustainable development.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of great significance to the following people and in the following ways.
a. The media from time immemorial are charged with various roles of informing and enlightening the public, so this work will be useful to them by encouraging the media to carry out their functions well, despite the challenges that they face from time to time.
b. The study will provide reliable feedback data on audience view of media coverage of events and also provide its strengths and weakness which will serve as a tool for improvement in the media outfit including both electronic and print.
c. It will serve as a data base for Mass communication researchers and scholars who may be embarking on similar research in the future.
d. It will also avail political actors and players more and better information on the role of the media in information dissemination, especially in this democratic era.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the challenges of television broadcasting in a democratic dispensation, case study of NTA Abuja.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
NTA: Nigerian Television Authority, owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria
Television: An audio-visual mass communication device; that is, a powerful medium of mass communication that provides its audience the opportunity to view as well as listen to its transmitted messages.
Television Broadcasting: The dissemination of audio and video contents to a large, heterogeneous and dispersed audience which receives the information simultaneously
Challenges: Used interchangeably with problems in this work
Media: Dictionary meaning sees it as the main ways which large number of people receives information. In the cause of this work, it’s taken to be the radio station where Radio Benue falls under this media in disseminating information to large heterogeneous audience.
OTHER SIMILAR MASS COMMUNICATION PROJECTS AND MATERIALS