PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION OF ELECTRONIC MEDIA IN NIGERIA
1.1 Privatization and commercialization of electronic media in Nigeria (A case study of Minaj system T.V.)
Broadcasting in Nigeria, entered a new era with the decision of the federal government is allow private ownership of radio and television stations after more than 50 years of its advent in Nigeria.
Privatization is the process which government either partly or wholly transfers equity investment of ownership in a business enterprise to private investors.
Commercialization, on the other hand is defined as the reorganization of enterprises such that they could operate enterprises wholly or partially owned by the federal government without relying on government subvention.
It could be recalled that since the advent of radio and television in 1932 and 1959 respectively, government had hitherto reserved its ownership to either state or federal government.
Radio broadcasting started in 1932, when re-diffusion services began in Nigeria. This re-diffusion started in Lagos with the distribution of programmes, which originated from the British Broadcasting co-operation (BBC) in London. This was part of the overseas services of the BBC. From the Lagos studio, the programmes were distributed to various listening boxes when subscribers who had paid a small subscription fee for this purpose received them.
Because of the popularity of this system, it was eventually expanded to include stations outside Lagos, Abeokuta, Calabar, Enugu, Ibadan, Ijebu-ode, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Port Horcourt and Zaria. When in 1951 and 1952 the Nigerian Broad casting service (NBS) was established by the federal government and the major re-diffusion stations were converted into fully operational stations, radio had finally arrived in Nigeria.
Unlike radio which began in Nigeria through federal government initiative, television broadcasting began in the country through regional initiative. This was in October 1959 when the government of the former Western Region started the first television service in both Nigeria and Africa- the Western Nigerian television (WNTV). The following year, on 1st October 1960, the former Eastern Region followed the example of the West by establishing the Eastern Nigeria Television (ENTV) in Enugu.
The federal government got round to establishing its own television service when it started the Nigeria television service (NTS) in partnership with the NBC- International of America, in April 1962 in Lagos. In the same year, the government of the former Northern region also started its own television service called Radio Television Kaduna (RTV). The regional government and a British television company jointly owned this.
The federal government television which was under a management agreement with an American company, continued and was confined to the federal capital, and soon came under the Nigerian Broadcasting co-operation, (NBC) when the management contract with the American was determined.
The advent of television brought in its wake a new dimension to broadcasting in Nigeria. The creation of states in Nigeria meant that the new state administrations could set-up television networks in their states.
The former government of the mid-Western state in 1973 went ahead by establishing the Mid-Western Television (MTV) now NTA Benin, Benue plateau television (BPTV) followed in 1974.
In 1975, the federal military government announced its intention to take over all television stations in the country. It then set-up machinery within the federal ministry of information to give effect to this plans.
At this time, ten stations-Ibadan, Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, Benin, Jos, Port-Harcourt, Kano, Sokoto and Owerri (Aba) in that order, had been set-up.
The Nigerian television authority was finally inaugurated in May, 1977. Although Decree 24 or 1077, which established it, was promulgated in March 1077 but took effort from April 1976. By that Decree, the NTA became the only body empowered to undertake television broadcasting in the country. Indeed, the federal government had began to fund all the stations from April 1, 1976, when networking of news also commenced on Nigerian Television, vea domestic satellite (Domstat). By December 1978, there were scheduled broadcast from every state capital in the country.
Between 1959 and June, 1992 broadcasting organizations had been part and parcel of public service. The industry was subjected to high degree of control and interference by the government and was used as public service instrument designed to propagate government activities- the broadcasting stations were, therefore, committed to giving air time to government agencies which have no commercial value.
This monopoly of government ownership of the electronic media was sustained due to the following assumptions. Among them was the argument put forward by a one-time information minister, prince Tony Momsh, that privatization and commercialization is likely to affect the unity of the nation as well as our national security.
Again Chief Alex Akinyele, also a one-time information minister said that since Nigerians were not starved of information by reason of the non-existence of such private electronic media, it could not be said to constitute a priority for the common man. He feels rather very strongly that “private television/radio is patently dangerous” and that it is a costly diversion.
Furthermore, there has also been the supposition that Nigeria is not ripe enough to own private electronic media.
But the advantages of a privatized media outweigh that of government ownership. This ranges from broadcasting service characterized by high degree of aggressiveness, pragmaticism, expansionism and technical competence to placing top priority on the generation of more revenue maximization of profit and be in a comfortable position to execute its programmes.
Preamble: Broadcasting is a medium of communication through which the individual share in the world around and beyond his immediate environment. By means pf broadcasting every Nigerians should partake in ideas, ideals and experience that will enrich his life and help him live in complex and dynamic, yet humane society.
Broadcasting in Nigeria should be made to influence societal value positively and in so doing improve and strengthen the social, cultural, economic, political and technological fabric of the nation. The major responsibility of broadcasting to inform, educate and entertain shall not be at the expense of national interest unity and cohesion of Nigeria’s diverse social, economic, political and religious configuration. No broadcasting shall encourage, or include crime, or lead to disorder or to be offensive to public feelings or contain an offensive reference to any person, alive or dead or generally, be disrespectful to human dignity.
The objectives of broadcasting in Nigeria social objective: Educate people irrespective of their educational background.
In conclusion, we want to use Minaj system television Obosi (a privatized media) as our case study to X-ray the viability, prospects, problems and sustainability of this unique endeavor.
1.2 HISTORY OF MINAJ SYSTEM’S TELEVISION (MST) OBOSI ANAMBRA STATE
Minaj system television (MST) a subsidiary private television broadcasting company of Minaj investments limited, an indigenous organization that is into, mortgage banking, industrial printing and general trading started commercial broadcasting in December 1, 1994 with cable television located in Obosi, Anambra State.
Owned by a group of shareholders whose interest in broadcasting lies on providing better entertainment, information, education and giving value to its viewers while at the same time maximizing its profit as a private oriented business, has as its chairman chief Mike Ajaegbuo a Lagos based business executive.
With the Decree No 38 of 1992 signed into law by the ex-president, Ibrahim Babangida, Minaj system television launched itself into broadcasting after equipping itself with all the necessary technical, human and material resources at its disposal.
Having acquired the vital hard wave, a good caliber of well-motivated staff, 60% of which are products of the institute of management and technology (IMT) Enugu, the station kicked off working purposefully at the international market as its target.
The broadcast station (MST) slanted its programme profit after the cable network (CNN) with emphases on interpreting Africa to the world and the world to Africa. This according to its managing director Mr. Chudi Onwugaje, has become necessary because of the biased nature of news transmitted about Africa by these international broadcast media and c0-operations. “With the appropriate hard ware and staff, we are fully equipped and prepared to counter these ill-motivated information became daily by these international News agencies and broadcast media”-1 Onwugaje posited.-1
However Minaj systems television (MST) commenced test transmission in June 1994 and full commercial broadcasting on Thursday 1st December 1994. Meanwhile its programmes have continually been received on channel 43 UHF in the entire Anambra State, as well as parts of Enugu Edo, Kogi, Imo and Abia state-2.
Though a new station, its transmissions are free from “channel” noise, technical interference, ambiguous language, visual distractions and breaks I transmission arising from power or plant machineries failure-3.
Their progamme profile spanning across the health and fitness programmes for breakfast transmissions, children’s programmes, youth time, commercial belt, News-which comes if four slots.
I. Dateline MST, 6: 30am, breakfast news
II. The news in vernacular at 7.00pm, produced, packaged and presented in vernacular to international standards.
III. The news in English at 7:30pm which is largely local regional, national and international news anchored virtually with video clips of news-worthy developments in and around our world and lastly.
IV. The NTA network news at 9.00pm, all aimed at fostering the co-operative development of TV journalism for the full benefit of viewers the Nigerian nation, the television as well as advertising industry-4 paid announcements, sports and musical extravaganza, movie, Religious programmes are excellently packaged and programmed for the viewers total delight-5.
Also vital is the station’s peculiar house style which adopts the conversational, magazine and soft sale approach in its news writing and presentation remaining faithful to facts balanced and credible study in the presentation of issues while achieving believability for the Nigerian broadcast media.
Minaj system television have a branch at No 8 Awka road Onitsha and another branch at Lagos where they have their main business branch which is Minaj investment limited. This organization also have a license to broadcast on TV using satellite that is satellite re-broadcast which will be on cable under the following channels 70, 22 and 74. In June 1994, the station began free TV on channel 43. It has so far eleven hours broadcast on weekdays and 24 hours broadcast on weekends.
This license granted the station by NBC allow them to operate cable network in five zones in the country (Edo, Kogi, Delta, Anambra and Enugu States). The organization employs graduates form different disciplines ranging from mass communication to Engineering and many others, especially those who have tittle or no past experience with any other Broadcasting station and this lack of experience will enable them to adopt MST house style without the interference of their past experiences. They will be able to accept new electronic media house style.
Minaj system television according to Mr. Armand Odugwu, is a learning organization. They train their employees for fur months before they start participating in full broadcasting. Their programme manager Mr. Tony Ekeanyanwu was sent to USA where he will acquire more knowledge from CNN experts. Broadcasting experts were sent down from Lagos to coach employees. The station employ people from different parts of the federation based on their intellectual capability and ability not on a quota system or random sampling mechanism. The station give medical treatment to their employees and their families also accommodation was provided for the managers in the organization. Employees of this station enjoy free-ride to and fro their working place and they enjoy quarterly furnishing of their ward robe by the management of the station. Their remuneration is something to write home about when compared with that of their counter-parts in government owned broadcasting media. The station ensures that their employees have the good of Nigeria in mind.
Areas that enjoys the service of this station are:
Enugu-Ekochin Hospital ninth mile and Environ
The whole of Delta and Anambra states
The station try to adopt the CNN house style as pioneers (1st in eastern states) MST want to build a solid foundation; so that they will be a sample to other privatized and commercialized broadcasting media in Nigeria.
EQUIPMENTS AVAILABLE AT THE STATION:
STUDIO: Programmes are organized here. They have the following in their studio: Two studio cameras and Tripods, 2 studio monitors, 2 studio lights, sound Absorbers, Two Redar situation tele prompter Daniel Jones pronunciation dictionary and fire extinguisher different cottons with various colours for different programmes. They also have lapelmics, which are mostly used by their broadcasters. ATV monitors in studio informs a broadcaster that she is on air and their broadcasters read from TV prompter instead of a script.
CONTROL ROOM: Seven TV monitors, visual console and audio console, VTR1- Tape recorder and VTR2 and a pre-view monitor. They also have VHS video catterages and super-VHS catterages, transmitter signal unit (wave from monitors), camera control unit.
VIDEO EDITING SECTION:
VIDEO EDITOR: They have an individual who is a video editor and a machine also known as news editor, which beautifies or arranges the rushes (news script) collected by reporters in their rush.
It makes the news script sink in with visual. Editing console (computerized), five monitors, character generator (for typing in words on taped films) VHS, U-matic video-cassette recorder have its monitor) are other equipments seen in video editing section of MST.
RESEEARCH UNIT: BVE machine, BMC cable to connect all machines (audio channel)
NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIR SECTION:
Anosike Walter (News Editor). They have about 10 reporters and received news materials from outside correspondents. They have a radio and television through which their reporters listen and analyze foreign news. They also get press releases from government. Reporters in MST have newsroom lectures as times.
Mr. Ajaegbuo, the owner of Minaj system television warns his employees that though they are defenders of the down trodden, they will avoid “publish and be damned”. He instructed that a balanced news have to be presented by four dealing according to Mr. Odogwu, the organization believes in stoop and conquer (as an Iroko tree cutter), careful treatment, careful analysis and truthful reporting is the only thing that will help in building up a better atmosphere to achieve believability on the side of Nigerians.
Being arbiters to trouble between the Government and public organizations. Truthfulness if achieved will help in building a better Nigeria.
NB: The organization does not encourage building personality cults for it breeds cruelty in our youths (for they will believe that one can embark on any criminal act to get money and that the end will justify the means).
All these unique features of Minaj system television Obosi distinguished it from other broadcasting stations, making its audience to strongly believe that “Minaj system television Obosi is simply the best”.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
Because of its importance and sensitive nature, many Nigerians both within and outside the country had through writing and critical discussions, expressed their feelings with regards to the need for a fully privatized and commercialized broadcasting media in the country.
Many Nigerians are of the opinion that a privatized media will ginger competition in the industry, thereby breaking the long government’s monopolistic hold on it.
Peter Enahoro a veteran journalist and publisher in one of his classical write-ups in the dailies made a clarion call that this nation is due for a fully privatized and commercialized private media. He was of the idea that information management and dissemination should not be the exclusive preserve of the government.
He maintained that privatizing the broadcast media would provide avenues for cross-informational flow but would also boost the already battered broadcast industry as well as helping to interpret Nigeria and Africa to the world and vice versa.
However, some of our ex-information ministers had strongly opposed this idea. Among them are prince Tony Momoh and Alex akinyele.
Prince Tony Momoh in his contribution posited that it would most likely affect the unity of this nation as well as our national security. His immediate successor, chief Alex Akinyele argued that privatization and commercialization of electronic media is “patently dangerous”! And that it is a costly diversion”2. Just to name a few.
The study of this topic is very important and because of its newness we intend to highlight on some of those benefits likely to accrue to the industry, the country, the broadcast professionals and we shall equally X-ray the suitable atmosphere under which the industry can thrive.
It is therefore, our hope that through this work, we will help the audience, the authorities and proprietors of the privatized media; understand the need for a vibrant and promising electronic media.
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
It has often been argued and rightly too, that free market of ideas and free press are veritable instruments of democracy.
Nigeria, a country in search of democracy cannot ignore privatizing and commercializing of its broadcasting media, which will help them to achieve democracy.
It is hoped that the newly privatized and commercialized media will bridge the gap in information dissemination and quicken the country’s return to civil rule.
Our prime objective is to critically examine the operations, aspirations and achievements of the privatized and commercialized media so far.
We intend to know whether they will allay the fears of those against this idea by working with the NBC guidelines.
In this study we intend also to get the general opinion of the audience and the importance of privatization and commercialization of electronic media. Taking into consideration, the socio-political atmosphere prevalent in the country.
1.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Considering the unique nature of our study coupled with its newness in Nigeria, we advised two appropriate methods to evolve reliable and factual data for the study. These approaches, which we believe are the best, are, interviews and observations carried out exclusively at Minaj systems television Obosi, Anambra state a private broadcast media, its environs and the response of its pioneer staff and audience.
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