- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is a known fact that the emergence of broadcasting in Nigeria has brought about unprecedented growth and development in virtually every facet of human endeavor.
Broadcasting through radio and Television plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion in the society thereby encouraging social, cultural, political and economic advancement and emancipation of the people as it has altered the modus operandi of how things should be done in the largest black nation on earth.
The liberation of broadcasting to include private sectors through the deregulation of broadcasting by the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida military administration in 1992 gave a rise to the birth of many private radio and Television stations.
Although the history of broadcasting in Nigeria predates the time of deregulation in 1992, in fact broadcasting in Nigeria started in 1932 during the colonial period.
Contributing to the history of broadcasting in Nigeria, Beitang (2006, p.1) cited in Innocent et al, (2013) in their online publication titled Broadcasting regulation &Broadcasting in Nigeria: An Overview of the approaches penned thus.
“With the natural backdrop of three vegetation zones and a varied colourful topography, Nigeria has an impressive historical location, traditional festivals and Durbars, which provide a rich tapestry and backdrop for television and radio production. There is also a rich multi-cultural setting of about 400 indigenous Cultures to fertilize creation and creativity in the area of programming.
The coming of BBC Empire service in 1932 marked the beginning of broadcasting in Nigeria. The Empire service which utilized radio signal Re-diffusion Service, RDS, was designed to enhance economic, political and cultural relationship between Britain and its colonies. The outfit became Nigeria Broadcasting service, NBS, in 1951.
Furthermore, ordinance No. 39 of 1956 enabled the conversion of NBS to Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation NBC, in April 1, 1957. The same act provided for the external service of NBC, the Voice of Nigeria, which began operation in January 1, 1962. However, the three regions established TV stations as follows: West (WNTV: 1959); East (ENBS-TV: 1960); and North (RKTV: 1962). In 1979, all the regional radio stations came under one umbrella: Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Betiang 2006, p.1). Prior to that time the regional TV stations were harmonized to become Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, in 1976 (Owuamalam, 2006, p.10).
All along the ownership, control and operation of broadcasting in Nigeria were preserved exclusively for the various governments – Federal, Regional, and State (Media Rights Agenda, MRA, 2001, p.7).
However, in 1992, the deregulation of Broadcasting was promulgated with Decree No.38 by the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida. The expression of that presidential decree which established the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, also created a new pattern of ownership and control as well as injected competition in the broadcast industry. Corroborating, NBC (2009, p.2) submits that “as a result of the revolution in the Nigeria broadcast industry, the number of broadcasting stations in Nigeria has, at the last count, risen to 394, from less than 30 before deregulation”
Contributing to the discourse, Okunna (1993:55) penned that in the period between 1979-1983 ten state governments established their own television stations with the result that by the end of 1983, Nigeria had thirty-two TV stations each operating within the official guidelines and programmed schedules, depending, of course, on whether it is owned by the state government or operated as part of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
By 2004, Nigeria had open-air stations, private stations, which are mostly satellite retransmission stations.
Udeajah (2004:342) noted that these stations are grouped as follows.
- National Television Authority ( NTA)
- Voice of Nigeria (VON)
- 135 FRCN FM stations
- 37 state broadcasting corporations (radio and television) including Aso FM Abuja.
BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF CHANNELS TELEVISION
According to Wikipedia, Channels Television was founded in 1995 as a Private television station with only 15 employees by Nigerian veteran broadcaster and entrepreneur John Momoh and Sola Momoh, also a broadcaster. The company commenced operations in Lagos, south western Nigeria and has since grown to include three other stations in Abuja (Guzape), Edo and Kano states. It also has bureaus in almost every state in Nigeria, including stringers and affiliates in other parts in Africa, as well as strong relationships with international media organizations which allows access to information around the world.
The channel was licensed in June 1993 and allocated a frequency on UHF (Channel 39). It began transmission two years later under the name, “Channels Television”, and the first terrestrial broadcast was on the 1st of July 1995, with John Momoh reading the first news bulletin. Channels TV currently broadcasts to an audience of over 20 million people.
Channels Television has been recognized as the first and only thriving national TV brand, dedicated solely to the dissemination of news. It is the first Nigerian broadcaster to stream its television programming live for 24 hours.
Although the station has had its fair share of censorship with its closure in September 2008 by the State Security Service during the late President Musa Yaradua tenure for the release of misleading report but further findings vindicated the stations and the sanction was reversed.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
While the boom and proliferation of broadcast stations that followed the deregulation of the broadcast media is seen by some enthusiasts as a good signal in the right direction, the critics view it from an opposing point of view stating that broadcast stations is capable of posing as a threat to the national unity of the nation among many reasons which they claim, they also claim that the broadcast media is too powerful as a medium to be left in the hand of the private stations as they claim that the contents of such media might contain the ideological stance of its owners hence use many a time for the whims and caprices of those owners.
They also point out that the broadcast media especially radio which often have many positive impacts, can also for many negative ones for instance, It can be used to start a war or crisis due to it power of immediacy as the case of Rwanda genocide (where a radio station was used to start a war which claimed thousands of lives) is still fresh in the memory of many.
In the light of the foregoing, the regulations of the broadcast media becomes not only necessary but mandatory hence the establishment of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) established as a body saddle with maintaining law and order in the broadcasting sphere.
In broadcasting parlance, regulation involves the issuance of permission, that is, the granting of licence to broadcasting organizations. In most countries like, Nigeria, the licences are costly to acquire by private organizations. For instance, by 2006, the lowest licence fee for private radio was 15 million Naira; as against the lowest for public stations: 10 million Naira (NBC; 2006, p.13).
Moreover, broadcasting regulation is dependent on the cultural norms and also “contributes to the shaping of these norms, and can at times have a significant impact on the form and content of programmes” (Harvey; 1999, p.3), thereby affecting the economic and management structures of broadcasting.
Innocent et al, (2013) captures the other functions of NBC to include: Receiving, processing, and considering applications for the ownership of radio and television stations including cable TV services, direct satellite broadcast, etc. Regulating and controlling the broadcasting industry; Receiving, considering and investigating complaints from individuals and bodies regarding content of a broadcast or conduct of a station; Upholding the principles of equity and fairness in broadcasting; Establishing and disseminating a national broadcasting code and setting standards with regards to contents and quality of broadcasting Regulating ethical standard and technical excellence, Promoting Nigerian indigenous cultures, moral and community life through broadcasting, Determining and applying sanctions, including revocation of licences of defaulting stations by ensuring quality manpower development in the broadcasting industry by accrediting curricula and programmes for all tertiary institutions that offer Mass Communication in relation to broadcasting; Intervening and arbitrating in conflicts in the broadcasting industry.
In agreement with the foregoing, The NBC in its quest to maintain conformity with the set standards of broadcasting in Nigeria, and to ensure objectivity, fairness to reportage of issues without prejudice or bias, maintaining quality and efficient broadcasting sanctions erring stations, they give and revoke license to station and censor contents of broadcasting stations among other punishment with a view to conforming the stations with the code of conduct of the tenets of journalism and broadcasting to prevent abuse and misuse of the airwaves by constantly monitoring, visiting and approving order of programme for the broadcast stations whether television or radio.
There’s has been several reported cases of sanctions meted out on stations viewed to have breached the stipulated code of conduct of the NBC.
Contributing to the discourse Harvey (1999) avers that Regulations may be administered directly by government, as it was in Nigeria before 1992. It could also be through statutory agencies that enjoy some degree of independence from government. This is exemplified by National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, of Nigeria; the Federal Communications Commission, FCC, of USA; and Independent Television Commission, ITC, of Britain.
From the foregoing, it can be noted that the broadcast media regulatory agency NBC should be looked into to know how well to balance the book between both parties as broadcasting seem too risky a venture to be left solely in the hand of individual without prompt monitoring and evaluation.