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1.1   Background to the Study

From the beginning, communication has been an integral part of the human society. It has taken many forms from the ancient cave painting to mobile internet of the 21st century, facilitating contacts between different cultures through travel and trade as well as war and colonialism.  Such interactions have resulted in transporting and implanting ideas, religious beliefs, languages, economic and political systems from one part of the world to another by a variety of means that have evolved over millennia: oral and written language, sound and images (Schramm, 1988). As the society developed from the traditional through modern to the post-modern eras, communication developed to cater for human needs at individual, group and societal levels. The advent and popularity of mass communication have broken communication borers between societies and countries with the mass media transforming the human society and their effects felt across the world. Thus, media interest has grown beyond the conventional practice to international standard resulting in media globalization. (Alao, Alao & Oguchi, 2012).

Countries and cultures have long been in communication across borders. In the 20th century, radio, television and later, the internet accelerated this process.  Broadcast television took pre-eminence from the late 1940s (Schiller, 1969). Television is a domestic medium through which every household has access to an increasing flow of information and entertainment, using devices of sophisticated sources of images and information (Miles, 1988). Television became an attractive medium such that between 1980s and 1990s, the average daily period of viewing varied between 4.9 and 5.3 hours per household and between 3.0 and 3.8 hours for each individual (Sharot, 1994). Indeed, it is clear that television is central to the processes of media saturation in the modern society. Television is an important mass medium in all advanced industrialised countries and it is rapidly becoming so in the developing world. Allen (1992) carried out a study on television and observed that what people did with television was a topic worth considering in research because television’s roles in everyday lives of people manifest in so many different ways. He asserts that “today around the world, 3.5 billion hours will be devoted to watching television” (p. 110). This implies that television reaches a very large number of people, and it is perhaps the most important source of common experience for countries of the world that are divided by class, ethnicity, gender, religion, culture, political system, level of advancement and other factors.

        As a result of the influence of television at individual, group and societal levels, discourse about television programmes among Nigerian youths is a routine and important aspect of their everyday social interactions. At work, in the home, in the street, in the bus or on campus, Nigerian youths talk about the characters in soap opera, share latest fashion styles and discuss burning issues raised in both international and local news broadcasts and documentaries. What they discuss during such interactions is determined by the contents of the media to which they are exposed, especially television being an attractive medium that reaches its audience with an audio-visual appeal.

This research ought to analysis the viewership preference for foreign and and local television content among Nigerian youths.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

          The dominance of news gathering and dissemination by foreign television stations and other media organisations have caused disagreements between the developed and developing nations, including Nigeria, since the 1970s. Giffard (1982) listed four areas that have been of special concern to developing countries. First, more than seventy five per cent of the non-local news contents in developing countries media come from foreign television stations and news agencies and the former are forced to see themselves and practically all issues through Western lenses. Secondly, the Western information monopoly resulted in a heavy imbalance in the flow of news with information moving predominantly from advanced countries to developing nations. Thirdly, the West continues to maintain cultural imperialism through its dominant position as supplier of news, information and cultural fare to the developing world. The fourth area of concern is that coverage of developing countries, with particular reference to Nigeria as the most populous black nation, by the foreign media is often painted by stereotypical portrayals of such countries’ internal happenings.

For these reasons, the Western media continue to perpetuate unevenness in global information flow to the disadvantage of developing countries. The various motivations for perpetuating this Western-African divide justify McPhail’s (2006) accusation of electronic colonialism against the West. He describes electronic colonialism as the dependent relationship of poorer countries on the advanced nations, institutionalised by concentration of communication hardware, software and personnel in the latter. The resultant effect of the unevenness in the flow of global communication is apparent in the divide in framing of issues between the West and Africa in different spheres of life - culture, economy, science and technology, environment, health and politics – to the advantage of the West. Foreign television stations’ news flow to Nigeria has great effects on the Nigerian society (Akintayo & Adegoke, 2015).The extent and direction of the way Nigerian youths perceive their country’s image as portrayed by the Western media attracted investigation. Therefore, this study was set out to investigate how Nigerian youths perceive the country’s image as represented by foreign television stations in their programmes.

1.3   Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate how Nigerian youths perceive the image of the country based on foreign television stations’ representation of Nigeria’s image. The specific objectives are to:

1.   To compare the viewership preference for foreign and local television content among youths.

2.    determine Nigerian youths’ assessment of the nature of news stories disseminated by foreign television stations about Nigeria;

3.   examine the implications of foreign television stations’ programme contents on the image of Nigerian society as perceived by the youths;

1.4   Research Questions

This study was guided by the following research questions:

1.           compare the viewership preference for foreign and local television content among youths?

2.           What is the Nigerian youths’ assessment of the nature of news stories disseminated by foreign television stations about Nigeria?

3. Are there implications of foreign television stations’ programme contents on the image of Nigerian society as perceived by the youths?

1.5   Significance of the Study

This study provided empirical data on the preference of nigerian youths about their country’s image as represented by foreign television stations programme contents. The study would be useful to various stakeholders in many ways. It could shed more light on the foreign media domination of the developing world, which debates have shown to have led to imbalance in the flow of information to the benefits of the West. The study is thus an avenue to lend a voice to the debate agitated by developing countries, including Nigeria, on the issue. Also, apart from its contribution to the body of knowledge on the controversial foreign media domination, this study could provide an academic platform for other Mass Communication scholars who may be interested in the foreign television stations’ influence on other societies’ images, especially the third world countries.

 Moreover, the study could be a useful reference material to parents and guardians who are concerned about Nigerian youths’ moral uprightness as tool for national development. The study also exposed Nigerian broadcast regulatory agencies to the pernicious effects of unimpeded flow of foreign contents into the country. As a result, the study could expose the Nigerian society and security operatives to the reality of television broadcasting as a source of influence of youths’ actions and behaviours. In addition, it could call for the review of the Nigerian broadcasting code, particularly on stipulations of the minimum ratio of 70%-30% local-foreign programme contents. This study could motivate every stakeholder to implement the enforcement of the code as stipulated. Finally, the study would enlighten the public more concerning foreign television stations’ programmes and the implications on the image of the entire Nigerian society.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study was delimited in subject-matter to investigate the preference of nigerian youths viewership of foreign and local contents. Based on location, the work was focused on students of Akwaibom state polytechnic.

Moreover, the study scope purposively  selected foreign television stations because they  are more popular with reporting  Nigerian internal issues, they are; Cable News Network (CNN),British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC), Adjezzera, France 24,Euro News, New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV), Geo News(GN), MSNBC, Deutsche Welle Television, The Voice Of America (VOA),Reuters News World International, Sky News and Associated Press Television News (APTN) with selected programmes such as News, documentary, interviews, discussions, talk shows, and feature stories.

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