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The study assessed the “Influence of News Commercialization on Government Owned Radio Stations in Abia State, Nigeria”. The survey research technique was adopted with interview as the research instrument for data collection. The purposive sampling method was adopted to choose respondents from BCA and Radio Nigeria Pacesetter FM Umuahia for the study. The findings showed that the influence of news commercialization has more negative influence on the radio stations than the positive. It was concluded that News commercialization is a phenomenon that has come to stay in the Nigerian Broadcast system and as well, the broadcast stations should strive to do more of development information and less of the providing commercial stuff.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Over the years, the broadcast media have been at the fore front of engineering change and development. They have remained an energetic instrument for change and reconstruction as well as reformation since no society can function effectively without information. (Olube,2073).
Folarin (2000) cited by Kuewumi (2009) defines broadcasting as the planned provision of information education and the entertainment to a large and heterogonous audience through the two major media of mass communication of radio and television.
Television and radio broadcasting combines the power of sound and vision to furnish the viewer/listeners with a programme content that offers a means of escape from the daily humdrum of life endeavors (Dunu in Okunna 2002).
Bringing it down to the context of Radio Broadcasting, most of their programmes apart from sponsored news events are Comedies, Children’s Programmes, Educational programmes, talk, Music and drama all geared towards alleviating the impact of stress and the banalities in the day to day existence of the audience. The nature of these programmes bestows the broadcast media with a unique ability among the media to affect the audience, to reflect and shape social structure and change. This efficaciousness comes from the broadcast media to step directly into the home from their continuous and almost universal availability to their realism and capacity to entertain (Dunu in Okunna 2002).
The development of the Nigeria broadcast Industry is said to be bedeviled by the plethora of challenges. Infact it is believed that the advent of broadcasting in Nigeria marked the beginning of the challenges of the Industry (Chioma 2014).
It is for this reason that this study is set out to identify the Influence of News Commercialization in Government Owned Radio Station in Abia State using Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BcA) and Radio Nigeria Pace-setter fm Umuahia as target study.
1.1 News Commercialization and the Society
Apparently, we live in the age where the mass media is saddled with the responsibility to carry out certain basic functions that are useful to the society such as to entertain, to educate, to inform and to promote culture.
Here, News is simply seen as:
“The account of timely, current, unusual, significant events etc.
the whole essence of news is to report timely occurrence,
inform and educate the members of the society. The Journalist
is saddled with the responsibility of going out to gather News
items which will be processed and disseminated to the public.”
(Asemah 2011, p.32).
Under this circumstance, the News gathered go through a lot of processes which in most cases in the Nigeria broadcast system is sold and bought for a price which in other words is commercialized news.
News Commercialization means that News has become a Commodity which can be bought by those who have money so that their voices can be heard. The term Commodity is a basic concept in Economics and it is usually used in Conjunction with other market concepts such as supply, demand and price that is to say in economics when mention is made of a commodity the logical and natural thinking is that it is something which can be demanded and supplied for a price (Udoakah, 2006).
Mass media News like other Commodities is an output from a combination of factors of production namely, land, labour, capital, and entrepreneur (Udoakah, 2006). It is in demand and that be offered for sale. The demand for and sale of news seems to be more obvious in the activities of broadcast organizations whose business is to gather News from all the corners of the society. News has automatically become a commercial product that important news in the Country are put aside by unimportant and even trivial news items concerning Urban events and activities of personalities (UNESCO).
In the mass media, news has to be paid for by those who want to be heard in the society. News has gradually become a packaged broadcast report that is sponsored or paid for by interested parties.
“by this practice it becomes difficult for those who are financially handicapped to have access to the media, thus it is only organizations and individuals that have money to spend can gain news time for a prescribed fee. (Asemah, 2011, P.32).
News is no longer news when it has to do with the activities of personalities more than important development activities that are in the general interest of the society at large and when there is no element of objectivity in the news. Any journalist who collects money from his sponsor will definitely write news to favour him. This message he/she wishes to put across is then couched in the formal feature of news and passed unto the public as such.
1.1.2 Radio Broadcasting Ownership and Control
Radio Broadcasting is an audio (sound)
broadcasting service, traditionally broadcast through
the air as radio waves from a transmitter to an
antenna and thus to a receiving device. Stations
can be linked in radio networks to broadcast common
programming either in syndication or simulcast or both.
(Hasan, 2013; P 378).
Audio broadcasting can also be done through cable fm, local wire networks, satellite and the internet. The best known are the Fm and Am, these includes both commercial, public and non profit varieties as well as student run campus radio stations.
“Fundamental to an understanding of media structure is the question of ownership and how the powers of ownership are exercised”. (Mc Quail, 2000. P 198).
In the recent development of media industries, most of the radio stations are owned by a number of share holders rather than by individuals. This pattern of ownership is a challenge to the simplistic relationship between ownership and control.
Today, the dominant form of media is one under which the day – day running of the organization is carried out not by owners but by the managers who are appointed to manage the daily activities of the station.
“When ownership and control of an organization
are separate, its managers may decide to pursue
goals. The managers appointed to run the media
organization may not always act in the manner
desired by the principalities but might instead have
their own agenda to pursue (Doyle, 2002: P.5).
In the light of this assertion, most of these broadcast organizations are owned by the government, but they are managed and run by specific representatives, so the mandate of the government as owners and their influence on the organization’s impute is among the main focus areas regarding this study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Since the introduction of broadcasting in Nigeria till date it has been observed with disappointment that news commercialization seems to have taken an upper hand in the media especially the broadcast because of the failure of the owners in meeting the needs and management decisions of the broadcast stations. The owners are those in the helm of affairs of the government and the ruling class whom the station directors are answerable to, objectivity seems to have gone to the wind especially when it has to do with the news stories serving the needs and interest of the public.
Therefore, the question this study poses is: what are the influence of news commercialization on Broadcasting corporation of Abia state and Radio Nigeria Pacesetter Fm, Umuahia.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study were to:
(1) Find out the extent to which government owned radio stations in Abia state is involved in news commercialization.
(2) Assess the various ways in which news commercialization influences the performance of the station.
(3) Find out the different price tags given to different types of news carried by the station.
(4) Find out the extent to which government owned radio stations in Abia state survive without news commercialization.
(5) Find out the strong points of their news interest.
1.4 Research Questions
(1) What is the extent to which government owned radio stations in Abia state seem involved in news commercialization.
(2) What are the various ways in which news commercialization influences the performance of the stations.
(3) What are the different price tags given to different types of news carried by the radio stations.
(4) What is the extent to which government owned radio stations in Abia state survive without news commercialization.
(5) What are the strong points of their news interest.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The significance of this study aims at revealing to media practitioners and journalism students the influence of news commercialization on government owned radio stations in Abia state.
Because of the importance of their responsibilities to the public both at the state and federal level, this study will assist in enhancing the success and reducing the perceived failures of these radio stations.
The ultimate significance of this study will lie in its ability to influence the ongoing recommendations on what news to disseminate to the audience / public.
1.6. Delimitation of the Study
This study is mainly built around the level of influence commercialization of news has on government owned radio stations in Abia state placing emphasis on ownership, News interest, the various ways in which news commercialization influences the performance of the stations, the different price tags given to different types of news carried by the stations, and the extent to which government owned radio stations in Abia state survive without news commercialization.
1.7. Limitations of the Study
The major limitation faced was that most of the media practitioners were uncooperative in terms of giving out information. Time was another limitation faced and country and considering the prevailing economic situation facing the country funding was another limitation.
1.8. Operational Definition of Terms
(1) Influence: the Negative and positive effects of news commercialization on BCA and Radio Nigeria, pace setter for Umuahia.
(2) Radio: This refers to the audio broadcast medium of communication for transmitting information to a heterogeneous audience.
(3) News Commercialization: News is viewed as a commodity that can be demanded and supplied for at a price.
(4) Ownership: This refers to the owner of a broadcast medium of communication.
Asemah, E. (2011). Mass media in the contemporary society: Jos University Press: Selected mass media themes, University press.
Asemah, E. (2011). Principles and Practice of mass communication. Jos great future press.
Hasan S. (2013). Mass communication: Principles and concepts. (2nd ed): CBS Publishers and Distributors Delhi.
Mc Quail, D. (2000). Mc Quail’s mass communication theory. (4th ed), Lund on SAGE, Publications.
Okunna, C. (2002). Teaching mass communication: A multi Dimension Approach: Enugu New Generation books.
UNESCO (1980): Many voices, one world.
Udoakah N. (2006). Issues in media practices: Stirling-Horden publishers Ltd.
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