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Television for decades has constituted a major part of the media; television is clearly an essential medium. The study examined the residents of Essien Udim Local government Area with a view to finding out their viewership habits. It’s objectives was to find out how frequently the residents watch television, the station they prefer to tune to, the programmes which they prefer and what determines such preference. This study builds its postulation on the uses and gratification theory and the individual difference theory which has a profound effect on why people develop these habits. The data for the survey was drawn from respondents who form the sample; the questionnaire was also used in sourcing for information because of its ease in facilitating data processing. The factors which determine the television station and programmes which they watch revealed in the study include the satisfaction which they get from the programmes . Each individual has a need which they sought for in watching a particular programme, that need should be satisfied. Based on the various findings, recommendations were made which will help enhance the television viewership habits among residents of Essien Udim Local Government Area amongst which Television programmes are advised to broadcast programmes which are beneficial by assessing their needs, which will increase their television viewing.
1.1. Background to the Study
Television has been one of the popular means for delivering entertainment, advertising and information to the public. The level of development still makesthe media operators in the entertainment, advertising and information sectors not to care way much about the programmes contents of some of our television stations. Television is considered to be a major source of information, education and entertainment. Television has become a partof most people’s everyday lives and thoughts which reflects ones choices and preference, which in turn reflects one’s taste.
Television is a powerful medium through which information is disseminated. The process of information transmission is divided into dissemination interpretation and evaluation
(Verma, 2006). Television is the most powerful tool of all the media of mass communication. It is in fact a revolution in communication process in a modern society. It has brought not only the whole world into the home of the viewers but has become vulnerable to its influence.
This clearly implies that each audience has specific reason for tuning into a particular programme in fact their media expectations seem to be diverse as their demographics and psychographic variables. To attain the ultimate goal of communication which has to do with meeting audience needs, ensuring their continuous patronage and profitability, the satisfaction of audience must be guaranteed through result oriented, popular, diverse and professional packaged programme contents. To achieve this, the true nature of the audience must be known. This is possible through audience segmentation that is the dissection into specific needs and their characteristics. This is a must for communication whether in advertising, public relations, broadcasting, etc. It is very imperative as the availability of information is one thing.
With the society becoming more complex every day, different needs are bound to exist with people from different backgrounds, education, social, culture, economic, ethnic language, political and religious difference, media needs must prevail. No one can meet such needs through mere guesses or trail.
Agee, et al (1985) put it this way “Unsystematic, informal, intuition method is no longer adequate for the modern communicator for so many reasons”. It is also in the interest of media operators to consider this. The stiff competitive environment the media are involved today means the media operators must be professionally ethical and profitably minded to attain this practitioners must embrace audience research in order to clearly understand the desires of the audience.
The television viewing habits among residents of EssienUdim Local Government Area residents is highly heterogeneous with its members having several distinctive characteristics, different interests. Based on the heterogeneity of the residents of EssienUdim Local Government Area, it is obvious that views differs among members of mass media audience while some use a particular station program others depend on the other. Some may watch entertainment programs while some might prefer thoughtful vital programs like news, current affairs, documentaries, or commentaries depending on their likes. One of the plans in which an audience is active is through the use of selective exposure. It is the tendency of accepting to express oneself to communication that goes with your own value system, attitudes, and viewpoint.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Television, as well as influencing its viewers, evoked an imitative response from other competing media as they struggle to keep pace and retain viewer(Milton, 1973).
The Essien Udim residents constitute a considerable segment of television audience in Nigeria. The need for audience analysis of their nature therefore cannot be over emphasized. The tendency, most of the time especially in the developing countries, is for media practitioners to package their media contents well. In doing this, they do not take into consideration their supposedly diverse audience. This may be as a result of professional ignorance or perhaps taking the audience for granted. But taking the viewer for granted today is very costly on the part of the communicator.
In same vein, may be the level of our development still makes the media operators in each of the sectors not to care very much about the programme requirements of the various audience for example, the programmes contents of some of our television stations do not take care of the heterogeneous viewing public. This implies that each audience has specific reason(s) for tuning into a particular programme in fact their media expectations seem to be diverse as their demographic and psychological variables.
Therefore, the major question that this work attempts to answer is: What are the television viewership habits of residents of Essien Udim Local Government Area.
1.3. Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are to;
i. Find out how frequently residents of Essien Udim Local Government watch television programmes.
ii. Identify television programmes that residents of Essien Udim Local Government Area prefer to watch.
iii. To determine the television stations that Essien Udim Local Government Area prefer to watch
iv. To find out the reason for such preference; and,
1.4. Research Questions
The following research questions shall act as a guide to this study:
i. How frequently do residents of Essien Udim local Government Area watch television programmes?
ii. What television programmes do residents of Essien Udim Local Government Area prefer to watch?
iii. What determines the television stations that residents of Essien Udim Local Government Area prefer to watch?
iv. What are the reasons why residents of Essien Udim Local Government Area prefer these stations?
1.5 Justification for the Study
The significance of this study cannot be overemphasized when discussing the viewership habits in a developing community like Essien Udim. The findings from this research will help the government and the media to improve on their communication channels. This study will contribute to the pool of knowledge; it will give readers relevant historical facts about viewership habits among the residents of Essien Udim Local Government Area. It will equally serve as a useful source for future researchers, lecturers and students of Communication Arts.
1.6 Delimitation of Study
This work tends to cover the population of EssienUdim Local Government Area in AkwaIbom State, Nigeria.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
This work is without limitations. However, the following are the major setbacks of this work:
The questionnaires were only administered to those willing to fill it, others were hostile and un-cooperative. The means of data collection was hectic, thereby involving time consumption. Financial restrain was another limitation in this study.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined as used in this study:
i. Viewership: It refers to an audience of viewers, especially of television, either generally or of a particular kind or program.
ii. Television: It depicts an electronic system of transmitting transient images of fixed or moving objects together with sound over a wire or through space by apparatus that converts light and sound into electrical waves and reconverts them into visible light rays and audible sound.
iii. Habit: Habits consist of patterns of behaviour determined by the amount of time and importance individuals give to watching television.
iv. Programme: Programme in this context means a representation or item on television, especially one broadcast regularly between stated times.
v. Development: Development can be defined as a process of economic and social advancement in terms of quality of human life. It can be measured in terms of culture, wealth, education, healthcare, opportunities.
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