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1.1 Background of the Study
The Mass Media made up of print and electronic play a huge role as veritable instruments of communication in every society. Radio as a medium is a tool for journalistic education, enlightenment, mobilization, culture propaganda and entertainment. Radio promotes economic development, stimulates political participation and arouses national consciousness and unity.
Radio was originally brought to Nigeria in 1932 by the British colonial government and was known as Radiodiffusion Service (RDS). It allowed the public to listen to programmes of British Broadcasting Corporation as foreign radio. In April 1952, RDS became the Nigerian broadcasting Service and introduced radio stations in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan and Kano. This service was upgraded to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in 1957 by an act of parliament. The NBC was designed to serve the communication needs of the people in the regions. In the same vein, the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) was founded in 1933 to aid successful interaction of the broadcasting media in Nigeria. The organization is used as a rallying point for coverage of major national and international events.
Radio has the ability to serve both illiterate and literate people unlike the print media. Radio has played major roles in greasing the wheels of the country‟s political economy. It makes unbeatable contributions to the enhancement of the country‟s growth as exemplified in its massive political education, enlightenment, awareness, consciousness and provision offered for discussion, debates and presentations. These functions were manifested during campaign towards the 2003 general elections. It therefore provided the electorate the opportunity to set the manifestos and programmes of political parties with a view to helping them make mature choices during the elections. The mass media are organized means of communication designed to reach large numbers of people without the necessity of personal contact. Radio is regarded as the guardian of the public that examines the political policy and programmes, educates the masses, motivates and mobilizes them for active participation in political programmes and activities. The mass media are indispensable to the political system in a democratic society. They constitute the fourth estate of the realm, independent, free and responsible to the Public. They create awareness in order for the citizens to know the problems and issues confronting the state and their possible solutions and consequences. They provide people with information they need and can stimulate them by presenting the ideas of others. The mass media should play a crucial role in nurturing and sustaining the success or failure of our practice of democratic government. To a large extent, their success depends on how well the mass media carry out their functions as the midwife of democracy.
In Nigeria, the mass media have become instruments of political transformation of the masses. According to Akpan (1987, p.22), media information has a tremendous energy for change. Change in this context refers to learning which manifests mostly where a good number of people are wallowing in ignorance. The media are needed for information to improve all aspects of life. In the political sphere, the electorate need media information to participate fully in elections and learn their obligation. Furthermore, Eze (1988) while presenting his article, “Mass Media and Social Political Transformation‟, noted that the politics of any nation depends heavily on the mass media as platforms of articulating and marketing of ideas and issues on national problems to the people.
The study will therefore examine the contributions of Radio in mobilizing and galvanizing the people towards putting in place a stable and acceptable democratic government in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
1.1.1 Brief History of the Salt FM Radio (EBBS)
Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (EBBS) transmits on 98.10MHZ frequency modulation (FM) 2×2 TX. The Radio Station was established on 3rd February, 1997 with an initial 200 feet mast and later increased to 250 feet. The test transmission of the Radio station commenced on March, 22, 1997. Earlier, the pioneer military administration of Ebonyi State, Navy Captain Walter Feghabo, applied for both Radio and Television Licenses to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on March 3, 1997. On July 22, 1997 EBBS Radio started airing commercial programmes. On August 5, 1997 the first news bulletin was transmitted while the first global news came on air on April 1, 1998.
On 5th March, 1997 the management of EBBS forwarded the draft edict of the organization to the Ministry of Justice,Ebonyi State, through the Ministry of Information and State Orientation for vetting. Consequently, the Ministry of Justice on September 22, 1998 forwarded a copy of the Edict to the then Military Administrator, His Excellency, Commissioner of Police, Simeon Oduoye for assent. Thereupon, the Military Administrator assented to it and consequently, Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (EBBS) Abakaliki received its legal instrument (backing by Edict No.10 (1999).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The issue of media coverage of elections especially in the electronic media has always been a subject of considerable controversy in Nigeria. This issue is worsened by the diversity in culture and other social values among Nigerians. This obviously is the reason why the struggle to broadcast and control of the media as a means of gaining political power has remained an issue in Nigerian politics.
Political broadcasting tends to tilt in favour of the government of the day, however, with the deregulation of the industry, the trend changed, particularly with the nation’s return to democracy. This is obviously why many Nigerian broadcasting stations go all out to satisfy the interest of their owners during electioneering periods. Many Nigerians often accuse the media for not playing an independent role during electioneering periods as they often deny the oppositions the chance to use them in getting to the electorates. For instance, some all the broadcasting stations in Anambra state are owned by the government (including Radio Anambra) and during elections, they are used to serve the interest of the party in power. This it does contrary to Section 1.5.4 of the National broadcasting Commission’s code which deals on Political broadcasting.
The values and expectations of audience members in Anambra State which is the major catchment area of Radio Anambra does not present a shift from the status quo and due to the differences in the psychological make up of the people, they exhibit varying perceptions when faced with political messages and they comprehend political messages differently even when they live in the same environment.
The problem remains, how does the audience rate the performance of Radio Anambra in the 2007 general elections? Were their operations effective from the period of electioneering campaign to the elections proper? Was the station biased in terms of favouring the ruling party and denying access to the oppositions? Was the station able to mobilize the audience through inducing attitudinal and behavioural change during the elections period?
The problems highlighted above make it imperative to examine the perception of the audiences of Radio Anambra in the station’s coverage of the 2007 general elections in the state.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The following objectives were drawn to set the base this research to ensure a better understanding and assessment. To ascertain the level of coverage given to the 2007 General elections in Anambra State by Radio Anambra.
1. To ascertain the directional coverage of the elections by Radio Anambra with a view to ascertaining whether they were objective to all parties involved.
2. The find out the level of political influence in the station’s coverage of the elections if there were any.
3. To assess audience perception on the performance of Radio Anambra coverage of the 2007 elections in terms of functional duties and the effectiveness of its operations in Njikoka LGA.
4. To find out if the ownership status of radio Anambra affects her coverage of political issues like campaigns and elections in Njikoka LGA?
1.4 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 elections 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 electoral processes, especially on the coverage of elections.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions will be of guide to this study.
1. What is the level of coverage given to the 2007 general elections by Radio Anambra in Njikoka LGA?
2. What is the direction coverage of the elections by Radio Anambra to ascertaining whether they were fair to all parties involved in Njikoka LGA?
3. What is the level of political influence in the station’s coverage of the elections if there were any?
4. How does the audience of Radio Anambra perceive the station’s performance in terms of the coverage of the 2007 elections in Njikoka LGA?
5. Does the ownership status of radio Anambra affects her coverage of political issues like elections and campaigns?
1.6 Scope /limitation of the Study
It will be nugatory, attempting to study the whole of Nigeria as it relates to the perception of Nigerians to the media coverage of the last general elections in the country. This is so because apart from the fact that it will be too expensive to embark on such a research, the inability to measure the large number of people that will be involved posses another serious challenge. In view of this, this study would therefore be limited on one hand, to radio audiences of Njikoka LGA in Anambra state; while on the other hand, it would be limited to the Radio Anambra. Also, the refusal of the audience to fill the questionnaire posed another challenge. Time and finance was also a challenge, as the researcher could not go round in other to meet up with time.
1.7 Definition of terms
A clear understanding of major concepts in any study goes a long way in illuminating the reader views by engendering better comprehension.
Perception is meant to be a process by which we become aware of change in our environment through the senses. Perception about a thing or an issue leads
to opinion formation or change about that thing or issue. Perception is often selected support an inner consistency among a person’s beliefs, attitudes and value.
Audience is taken to be the group or selected number of people who watch, read or listen to the same thing. For this study we will take the audience to be the number of people who watches (sees) everything that has happened in the environment.
Coverage is the amount or way that (the media) covers an area. The coverage is to be taken from the 2007 election area.
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 Anambra falls under this media in disseminating information to large heterogenous audience.
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