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1.1 Background of the study
In this era of digital technology and
globalization of communication, the media industries have crucial role to play
in creating awareness and giving first class information to the populace on
issues emanating from the administrations and governance of their elected
leaders. Research has shown that successful countries are rated on how well
organized their system of government and political willpower as it affects
their citizens’ standard of living. The way and manner a society is governed
directly or indirectly reflects on the behavioural pattern and perception of
its citizens. In a democratic society, the media especially the television
station is the major source of communication between the government and its
citizen. The media through the television stations disseminate information,
news items, showcase political programmes, developmental projects and pitfalls
of the various arms of government in a particular country. Private owned
television stations such as Africa Independent Television (AIT) has been known
for promoting news and information related to politics and major happenings in
the political industries around the world. Hence, there is close relationship
between communicating political news and other political related news contents
and citizens’ dispositions, attitudes, behavioural pattern and perception of
their leaders. Viewers not only listen to news, they also analyse, select, make
comments, give opinions and share comments on how they perceive media effects
on politics generally. It is against this backdrop that the researcher seeks to
investigate the perception of viewers/audience on political news coverage on
television stations using Africa Independent Television (AIT) as her main
focus. Efforts shall be made to find out the impacts of television in the
dissemination of political news and politics in general. How do audience and
the general public perceive political news and other political programmes on
Africa Independent Television (AIT) in terms of quality of news items, quality
of broadcast and coverage, authenticity of news source, competency of staff to
mention just a few. An informed society, they say, is a rich society. In other
to establish a robust and information rich society, adequate communication is
necessary and a media house that has distinguished itself will definitely excel
especially in the present political juggernaut around the world. AIT is a
subsidiary of DAAR Communications Plc. DAAR Communications Plc is the foremost
Independent Broadcast Organization in the Federal Republic of Nigeria
pioneering private/independent broadcasting with the establishment of RayPower
100.5FM, AIT, Daarsat – The first fully Nigerian base digital multi-channel
direct-to-home subscription TV and an indigenous station FAAJI FM. AIT
political news cut across news on Legislation, Presidency, Political
Institution and Government Institutions (http://www.aitonline.tv/live). December 6,
1996 heralded the coming of a star in global Satellite Broadcasting, the Africa
Independent Television channel 21. AIT provides a fresh slant to TV
broadcasting with a unique programming theme that shares the African Experience
with the wider global community. AIT channel 21 and AIT International share the
same vision and a similar mission. AIT has a unique mission that of sharing the
African Experience with the wider global community. With its fascinating
cross-cultural theme and vibrant programme content, Africa Independent
Television (AIT) aims to share everything that is exciting about the African
experience with the nations of the world. The station logo and pay-off, AIT –
Sharing the African Experience, symbolizes its vision: to offer on a daily
basis, a refreshing but revealing insight into the African experience worldwide.
This sentiment is proudly echoed in AIT’s corporate identity – AIT, Sharing the
With a thematic pay-off which emphasises the objective of sharing the unique African experience with the world, AIT’s mission is to enhance global understanding through an untainted appreciation of the world and its peoples. Unusual amongst global satellite broadcasting stations, AIT is motivated by uniquely altruistic aims to promote a methodical reduction of tension and friction and foster a greater appreciation of humanity. It is committed to the task of bridging the gap in global communication which places Africa at the ruthless mercy of western perspectives, opinions and nuances. AIT’s main task is to project Africa from a holistic African prospective. Untainted, undiluted and absolutely original, AIT offers the world a new insight into the African experience (http://www.daarusa.com/ait). The perception of audience regarding television news content has long been of interest to communication researchers. Perceptions of credibility have been found to be influenced by the content of the news reports and characteristics of the news anchor, suggesting that perceptions of credibility may be influenced by presentation variables. Public perception is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs in a system. It can also be seen as the complex collection of opinion of many different people and the sum of all their views or as a single opinion held by an individual about a socio-economic or political topic. Key component in the formation of public perception is “framing”. Framing is when a story or piece of news is portrayed in a particular way and is meant to sway the consumers’ attitude one way or the other. Social desirability is another key component in the formation of public perception. Social desirability is the idea that people in general will form their perceptions based on what they believe is the popular opinion. Based on media agenda setting and media framing, most often a particular opinion gets repeated throughout various news mediums and social networking sites, until it creates a false vision where the perceived truth is actually very far away from the actual truth. Public perception can also be influenced by public relations and the political media. Mass media utilizes a wide variety of advertising techniques to get their message out and change the minds of people. From the 1950s, television was one of the main media for moulding public perception, but with the advent of the internet and social media, that has changed considerably. Public perception starts from an idea or suggestion being subtly mooted, mainly through the mass media. Questions such as why would the North always rule? The government is filled with corrupt politicians and what should the government do regarding public transportation etc. So when citizens gather they talk about politics. Generally, they proffer their opinions on what they think that their governments ought to be doing on this or that issue (Agbo, 2013). In mass media, channels of transmission of news include: the press, radio, television and internet. All this media have specific technical-technological characteristics with which they transmit their news. The role of the mass media in creating and strengthening public opinion is very important. The advent of independent media houses in the present democratic settings has contributed to the growth and freedom of expression and perception. In modern societies, getting authentic information is critical to the quality decision making by the citizens and the legislators. The growth of the mass media and their capability to transmit information and messages to a large population at the same time combined with the ever ready good to go journalists have turned the media world into a large social institution. In the past, the traditional media organizations have been the basic means of connecting the public with news on social and political world. For a longer period of time, such media have been observed as a means of preventing the citizens from knowing some of the misdeeds of the government especially in politics. Politics in the modern societies can be understood as a system organizing and governing the public way of life and taking care of the overall interests of the citizens. The role of the mass media in creating and strengthening the public opinion is pivotal. Hence, with the advent of independent media houses in the process of democratization, expressions and thoughts of the general public have been made easy. Public perceptions could also be related to their attitudes, opinions, and believes on certain political news and political programmes; these sometimes influence their behavioural patterns and dispositions toward their political leaders and stakeholders. Public perceptions are also conditioned by three key elements: public, the message and the channel through which the message is passed. The television today represents a channel of information dissemination, such as the political happenings, events, quarrels and debates, the manner in which the television station package and transmit the information has an influence on the audience, since it is through the media the audience learn, judge, analyse, makes contexts and make informed decisions about their political leaders. Politics cannot exist without the voice of the media, because only through it, the public get to know the plans, activities and agenda of the political parties (Siljanovska and Ejupi, 2013).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
One of the most common generalizations about politics is that today’s voters are less informed and less engaged than voters in prior generations. This perceived decline in political engagement echoes a decline in both exposure to news and the quality of political news. Television viewers has been waning steadily for decades, the network news shows have lost a third of their viewers, and the content of campaign coverage in these news outlets has shifted away from policy to scandals, gaffes, and the horse race. It is no wonder, then, that citizens are viewed as less equipped to make electoral decisions today than they were 50 years ago (Gilens, et al., 2009). Despite the efforts of the private electronic media to help in the growth and development of the country, by keeping audience informed about political activities in the country through their political news and programs, these media houses have short comings and these short comings have prevented them from serving the audience effectively. It is in this context that this work will study the audience perception of political news coverage on Africa Independent Television (AIT) in Enugu metropolis. The study will seek to proffer and suggest solutions to some of the challenges mentioned above
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are:
1. To investigate audience perceptions of political news coverage on Africa Independent Television (AIT)
2. To find out the impacts of AIT’s political news coverage on politics in Nigeria.
3. To find out how audience perceive the credibility of political news on AIT.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: there are no impacts of AIT’s political news coverage on politics in Nigeria
H1: there are impacts of AIT’s political news coverage on politics in Nigeria
H02: audience do not perceive the credibility of political news on AIT
H2: audience perceive the credibility of political news on AIT
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of benefit to the audience; this is because it will create room for the audience to air their views on how they perceive AIT political news coverage. It will also benefit them because it will help them have a better understanding of the mission and vision of establishing privately owned media. Furthermore, it will benefit both government and private electronic media owners; because it will help media owners to understand their audience attitude and conduct towards their political news and on the other hand help the government knows the public reaction towards their political activities. The research will make room for increase in quality of news programs basically election news. Finally this study will be of significance to electronic media researcher because it will offer useful solutions to the problems facing communication; it will also serve as a springboard for further research into television ownership and as a useful recommendation for more studies.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study will investigate audience perceptions of political news coverage on Africa independent Television (AIT) in Enugu metropolis. It will investigate how the public perceive political news programmes on AIT. It will also discuss the impacts/roles of media in political. Finally the study will assess the quality of political news program in term of quality of broadcast and coverage, quality of news items, authenticity of news source and competency of staff. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Audience: Group of people or individual that view political news and programmes on AIT and other television stations.
Audience perception: This is
the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs in a system. It can also be
seen as the complex collection of opinion of many different people and the sum
of all their views or as a single opinion held by an individual about a
socio-economic or political topic.
Political news: These are information and report contents such as: political happenings, events, quarrels and debates on government activities around the world made available to for public view.
Politics: Politics in the modern societies can be understood as a system of organizing and governing the public way of life and taking care of the overall interests of the citizens
Television station: a channel of information dissemination, such as the political happenings, events, quarrels and debates, through which the audience learn, judge, analyse, makes contexts and make informed decisions about their political leaders.
Mass media: The use of different channels of transmission which include: the press, radio, television and internet with specific technical-technological characteristics with which they transmit news and other programmes.
News coverage: This is the actual style, language, positioning and viewpoint given to a story in any of the various medium of mass communication.
Digital technology: The use computerised equipment and electronic devices to process and disseminate news and information.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study
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