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1.1 Background of the Study
The media of mass communication have a responsibility in any society where they operate. Neher and Sandain (2007: p.211) assert that people turn to the news media for the accurate reporting of facts so that they can decide what is right and what ought to be done. However, the social responsibility function of the mass media is conflicting with the desire to make money (Udomisor & Akutus, 2013, p.29).
The social responsibility theory holds that for the press to function as a free enterprise; it must be responsible to a society in which it operates and the media are able to raise issues of public importance and interest (Asemah 2011, p.146). The Nigerian media today often times do not perform this social duties and important topic of discourse that the media would have brought as agenda are being compromised for money. O’Neill (1999 in Azeez, 2009) paints a vivid picture of the rising cases of commercialization thus;
In today’s growing capitalist world, economic imperative and profit making underline every activity and all services; even religious undertaking is not left out in the commoditization of every single bit of our modern life. Invariably, the noble profession which ought to serve the primary interest of the public as a watchdog of the government is not spared from the frenzy world of business world and demands of our time. This has brought about terrible implications on the quality of information and public enlightenment we are served by the news organizations…
The assertion above provides an insight on the commonness of commercialization in contemporary society and how it has spilled over to the media, thus leading to what is called news commercialization. Asemah (2011, p.33) in his opinion said that “there is an increasing
commercialization of the media in Nigeria, the situation that has brought the integrity of the mass media enterprise to question.” The rate of commercialization in the media is now high at the expense of the objectivity and other ethical values of the media. Johnson (2001, p.2) asserts that balancing the cost of high quality journalism against corporate profit is one of the significant changes in journalism practice today.
In the bid to raise money for their daily operation, the media brought about commercial break. Mick (2004, p.15) opines that commercial break is a built-in form of interruption within or between different programmes on the commercial television channels. Most people turn on the television in order to watch the programmes, and not the advertising. When watching alone, (i.e., viewing) the commercial break or a particular advertisement can be seen as a motivated act; people chose for a reason to watch or not to watch (Scott 1994, p.15).
According to this proposition, the viewer is not an unwitting recipient of television advertising, instead, the potential audiences for advertising are governed by different motivations which can lead to different outcomes in the media use. This explanation fits into the tenets of uses and gratification hypothesis. According to the uses and gratifications approach, individuals select media to accomplish some end (Andersen &Meyer 1988, p.15). What this means, is that any interruption known as television commercial may lead to a reaction from the audience. Pechu, (2014, p.6) provides more insight into issue of commercial interruption thus:
While viewers are watching programmes, it is a common practice that television houses often slot in commercials which break the continuity of these programmes to the irritation of viewers. The advertisers often want their commercials to be aired at prime time, while these viewers want their favourite programmes to be uninterrupted by commercials. This creates conflicts between the interest of advertisers and interest of viewers. Television houses do not seem to see anything unusual or abnormal per se about this situation. The submission above provides an understanding of the dilemma media practitioners’ face. Television is the block of broadcast programming taking place during the middle of the evening for television programming. The term television is often defined in terms of a fixed time period-from 7pm to 10pm or 8pm to 11pm. Television is the day part (a block of a day’s programming schedule) with the most viewers and is generally where television networks and local stations reap much of their advertising revenues (Akpan 2006, p. 46). During television , ratings for television programme are high and there is also an attraction of the time slot for advertisers.
Mass media audience is often described as the final destination of the mass media messages (the receiver) in a sender –message – receiver system (Nightingale, 1984). The media audience according to Asemah (2011, p.8) is a large, diversified, highly dispersed, anonymous, heterogeneous and faceless group which can either be classified with their demographic or psychographic variables. The audience is very central in the communication process.
The Conference Board of Canada (2000,p.25) observes that understanding what your audience needs and expects, and adapting your messages accordingly, greatly enhances your chances of communicating successfully and that the communication process is the most complex of human activities, and the audience is central to that process. The relevance of the assertion of the Conference Board of Canada to this study is that, it has provided a reason on why the issue of audience attitude to television commercial should be of interest to researchers.
Attitude is a psychological disposition towards an issue which either favours or disfavours the issue. Pechu (2014, p.16) holds that attitude is a formidable factor in any human communication that define a psychological predisposition that allows a person to behave in a certain way towards objects, people or actions. Audience attitude therefore is the disposition of mass media audience. This study thus investigates audience attitude towards television commercial in south east Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One of the problems facing broadcasting today is how to balance social responsibility with income generation. Relevant and extant documents such as the National Broadcasting Code
(2010) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists Code of Ethics (2013) have specified that broadcasting should be more of a public service enterprise than a profit making venture. The perceived lack of balance between the two parallel lines(social responsibility and profit making) has attracted criticisms against the media as many scholars(Asemah 2011,p,34,Okunna 2005, p.88,Sewant 2000, p.12,) have referred to them( the media) as profit oriented. Thus, broadcast stations in a bid to generate finance for their daily operations source and air different commercials, some of which are aired during television s. Television programme such as during local news, network news, network programmes and other popular local programmes are viable avenues through which broadcast stations target and reach a large set of audience. It is during such hours that even the broadcast media record high profit margins which aid in the day to day running of the stations, but beyond the profit derived from these commercials is the perceived uncertainty about the audience attitude towards such commercials. Hence, this study which seeks to assess the attitude of the audience towards television programme.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of the study is to assess the older people attitude towards television programme in South East Nigeria. Specifically, the study seeks to:
1. To find out the level of exposure of the older people to television programme.
2. To examine viewers extent of recall of commercials in television programme.
3. To examine older people perception of commercial messages during television programmes.
4. To find out viewers disposition to commercial messages during television programmes.
1.4 Research Questions
This study seeks answers to the following questions
1. What is the level of exposure of the older people to television programme?
2. What is the extent of viewers’ recall of commercials in television programmes?
3. What is the older people perception of commercial messages during television programmes?
4. What is viewers’ disposition to commercial messages during television programmes?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study is significant because of its importance to the field of media and advertising. First, the findings of this study will be beneficial to media houses as it will help them know how the older people members perceive television programme.
The National Broadcasting Commission will find the result of this study useful as it will give them an insight on how to properly implement the provisions of the NBC code on commercial placement.
Also, other researchers can also find the result of this study relevant both as a reference material and as a motivation for subsequent studies.
In the area of theoretical relevance, the result of this study will contribute to theories of advertising consumption.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The geographical scope of this study is south east Nigeria. However, the study will be limited to three selected states in the south east which are, Anambra, Abia, and Enugu. In the area of content, the study will be limited to the level of exposure of the older people to television programme, viewers’ extent of recall of commercials in television programme, older people perception of commercial messages during television programmes, and the viewers’ disposition to commercial messages during television programmes.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Assessment: The act of appraising the older people reactions to television programme.
Attitude: Refers to television viewer’s reactions, feelings, thinking and behaviors when they see commercials or advertisements interrupting any television programme they are watching.
Older people: This includes elder or aged men and women.
Commercial: It refers to advertisements inserted in television programmes.
Television or Prime Time: This is the block of broadcast programming taking place during the middle of the evening (usually a fixed time period) for television programming.
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