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  • Name: Audience Perception of Africa Independent Television (AIT) coverage of political news Programmes in Enugu metropolis
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ABSTRACT

The aim of this study is to investigate Audience perception on coverage of political news programmes of Africa independent Television (AIT) in Enugu metropolis Enugu state. Three research questions guided the study. The data of this study were gathered through various Likert scale questionnaire. Statistical analyses of data collected were performed using, frequency distribution, percentages, and tables. A total of 400 copies of the questionnaire were distributed. The number of retrieved questionnaire was 280, representing 70% response rate. Results showed that audience attach importance to the status and pedigree of African Independent Television (AIT) hence influences their perception and believes and in the way they react to certain issues of life and act as a watchdog over the government. Finally the survey revealed that African Independent Television (AIT) political news coverage is of good quality, timely, precise and detailed political news programs. The researcher recommends that since the primary purpose of the media is to inform the public then media houses should ensure that contents of their news are absolutely free from bias, factual and relevant to the larger society

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

In this era of digital technology and globalization of communication, the media
industries have crucial role to play in creating awareness and giving first class information to
the populace on issues emanating from the administrations and governance of their elected
leaders. Research has shown that successful countries are rated on how well organized their
system of government and political willpower as it affects their citizens’ standard of living.
The way and manner a society is governed directly or indirectly reflects on the behavioural
pattern and perception of its citizens. In a democratic society, the media especially the
television station is the major source of communication between the government and its
citizen. The media through the television stations disseminate information, news items,
showcase political programmes, developmental projects and pitfalls of the various arms of
government in a particular country.
Private owned television stations such as Africa Independent Television (AIT) has
been known for promoting news and information related to politics and major happenings in
the political industries around the world. Hence, there is close relationship between
communicating political news and other political related news contents and citizens’
dispositions, attitudes, behavioural pattern and perception of their leaders. Viewers not only
listen to news, they also analyse, select, make comments, give opinions and share comments
on how they perceive media effects on politics generally. It is against this backdrop that the
researcher seeks to investigate the perception of viewers/audience on political news coverage
on television stations using Africa Independent Television (AIT) as her main focus. Efforts
shall be made to find out the impacts of television in the dissemination of political news and
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politics in general. How do audience and the general public perceive political news and other
political programmes on Africa Independent Television (AIT) in terms of quality of news
items, quality of broadcast and coverage, authenticity of news source, competency of staff to
mention just a few.
An informed society, they say, is a rich society. In other to establish a robust and
information rich society, adequate communication is necessary and a media house that has
distinguished itself will definitely excel especially in the present political juggernaut around
the world. AIT is a subsidiary of DAAR Communications Plc. DAAR Communications Plc is
the foremost Independent Broadcast Organization in the Federal Republic of Nigeria
pioneering private/independent broadcasting with the establishment of RayPower 100.5FM,
AIT, Daarsat – The first fully Nigerian base digital multi-channel direct-to-home subscription
TV and an indigenous station FAAJI FM. AIT political news cut across news on Legislation,
Presidency, Political Institution and Government Institutions (http://www.aitonline.tv/live).
December 6, 1996 heralded the coming of a star in global Satellite Broadcasting, the
Africa Independent Television channel 21. AIT provides a fresh slant to TV broadcasting
with a unique programming theme that shares the African Experience with the wider global
community. AIT channel 21 and AIT International share the same vision and a similar
mission. AIT has a unique mission that of sharing the African Experience with the wider
global community. With its fascinating cross-cultural theme and vibrant programme content,
Africa Independent Television (AIT) aims to share everything that is exciting about the
African experience with the nations of the world. The station logo and pay-off, AIT – Sharing
the African Experience, symbolizes its vision: to offer on a daily basis, a refreshing but
revealing insight into the African experience worldwide. This sentiment is proudly echoed in
AIT’s corporate identity – AIT, Sharing the African experience.

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With a thematic pay-off which emphasises the objective of sharing the unique African
experience with the world, AIT’s mission is to enhance global understanding through an
untainted appreciation of the world and its peoples. Unusual amongst global satellite
broadcasting stations, AIT is motivated by uniquely altruistic aims to promote a methodical
reduction of tension and friction and foster a greater appreciation of humanity. It is
committed to the task of bridging the gap in global communication which places Africa at the
ruthless mercy of western perspectives, opinions and nuances. AIT’s main task is to project
Africa from a holistic African prospective. Untainted, undiluted and absolutely original, AIT
offers the world a new insight into the African experience (http://www.daarusa.com/ait).
The perception of audience regarding television news content has long been of
interest to communication researchers. Perceptions of credibility have been found to be
influenced by the content of the news reports and characteristics of the news anchor,
suggesting that perceptions of credibility may be influenced by presentation variables. Public
perception is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs in a system. It can also be seen as
the complex collection of opinion of many different people and the sum of all their views or
as a single opinion held by an individual about a socio-economic or political topic. Key
component in the formation of public perception is “framing”. Framing is when a story or
piece of news is portrayed in a particular way and is meant to sway the consumers’ attitude
one way or the other. Social desirability is another key component in the formation of public
perception. Social desirability is the idea that people in general will form their perceptions
based on what they believe is the popular opinion. Based on media agenda setting and media
framing, most often a particular opinion gets repeated throughout various news mediums and
social networking sites, until it creates a false vision where the perceived truth is actually
very far away from the actual truth. Public perception can also be influenced by public
relations and the political media. Mass media utilizes a wide variety of advertising techniques
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to get their message out and change the minds of people. From the 1950s, television was one
of the main media for moulding public perception, but with the advent of the internet and
social media, that has changed considerably. Public perception starts from an idea or
suggestion being subtly mooted, mainly through the mass media. Questions such as why
would the North always rule? The government is filled with corrupt politicians and what
should the government do regarding public transportation etc. So when citizens gather they
talk about politics. Generally, they proffer their opinions on what they think that their
governments ought to be doing on this or that issue (Agbo, 2013).
In mass media, channels of transmission of news include: the press, radio, television
and internet. All this media have specific technical-technological characteristics with which
they transmit their news. The role of the mass media in creating and strengthening public
opinion is very important. The advent of independent media houses in the present democratic
settings has contributed to the growth and freedom of expression and perception. In modern
societies, getting authentic information is critical to the quality decision making by the
citizens and the legislators. The growth of the mass media and their capability to transmit
information and messages to a large population at the same time combined with the ever
ready good to go journalists have turned the media world into a large social institution.
In the past, the traditional media organizations have been the basic means of
connecting the public with news on social and political world. For a longer period of time,
such media have been observed as a means of preventing the citizens from knowing some of
the misdeeds of the government especially in politics. Politics in the modern societies can be
understood as a system organizing and governing the public way of life and taking care of the
overall interests of the citizens. The role of the mass media in creating and strengthening the
public opinion is pivotal. Hence, with the advent of independent media houses in the process
of democratization, expressions and thoughts of the general public have been made easy.
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Public perceptions could also be related to their attitudes, opinions, and believes on certain
political news and political programmes; these sometimes influence their behavioural patterns
and dispositions toward their political leaders and stakeholders. Public perceptions are also
conditioned by three key elements: public, the message and the channel through which the
message is passed. The television today represents a channel of information dissemination,
such as the political happenings, events, quarrels and debates, the manner in which the
television station package and transmit the information has an influence on the audience,
since it is through the media the audience learn, judge, analyse, makes contexts and make
informed decisions about their political leaders. Politics cannot exist without the voice of the
media, because only through it, the public get to know the plans, activities and agenda of the
political parties (Siljanovska and Ejupi, 2013).
1.2 Statement of the research problem.
One of the most common generalizations about politics is that today’s voters are less
informed and less engaged than voters in prior generations. This perceived decline in political
engagement echoes a decline in both exposure to news and the quality of political news.
Television viewers has been waning steadily for decades, the network news shows have lost a
third of their viewers, and the content of campaign coverage in these news outlets has shifted
away from policy to scandals, gaffes, and the horse race. It is no wonder, then, that citizens
are viewed as less equipped to make electoral decisions today than they were 50 years ago
(Gilens, et al., 2009). Despite the efforts of the private electronic media to help in the growth
and development of the country, by keeping audience informed about political activities in
the country through their political news and programs, these media houses have short
comings and these short comings have prevented them from serving the audience effectively.
It is in this context that this work will study the audience perception of political news
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coverage on Africa Independent Television (AIT) in Enugu metropolis. The study will seek
to proffer and suggest solutions to some of the challenges mentioned above.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The objectives of this study are:
1. To investigate audience perceptions of political news coverage on Africa Independent
Television (AIT).
2. To find out the impacts of AIT’s political news coverage on politics in Nigeria.
3. To find out how audience perceive the credibility of political news on AIT.
1.4 Research questions
The study will proffer answers to the following research question:
1. What are the perceptions of audience on political news coverage on AIT?
2. What are the impacts AIT’s political news coverage on politics in Nigeria?
3. How credible do audience perceive political news coverage on AIT?
1.5 Significance of study.
This study will be of benefit to the audience; this is because it will create room for the
audience to air their views on how they perceive AIT political news coverage. It will also
benefit them because it will help them have a better understanding of the mission and vision
of establishing privately owned media. Furthermore, it will benefit both government and
private electronic media owners; because it will help media owners to understand their
audience attitude and conduct towards their political news and on the other hand help the
government know the public reaction towards their political activities. The research will
make room for increase in quality of news programs basically election news. Finally this
study will be of significance to electronic media researcher because it will offer useful
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solutions to the problems facing communication; it will also serve as a springboard for further
research into television ownership and as a useful recommendation for more studies.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study will investigate audience perceptions of political news coverage on Africa
independent Television (AIT) in Enugu metropolis. It will investigate how the public perceive
political news programmes on AIT. It will also discuss the impacts/roles of media in political.
Finally the study will assess the quality of political news program in term of of quality of
broadcast and coverage, quality of news items, authenticity of news source and competency
of staff.
1.7 Operational definition of terms
Audience: Group of people or individual that view political news and programmes on AIT
and other television stations.
Audience perception: This is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs in a system. It can also be
seen as the complex collection of opinion of many different people and the sum of all their views or as
a single opinion held by an individual about a socio-economic or political topic.
Political news: These are information and report contents such as: political happenings,
events, quarrels and debates on government activities around the world made available to for
public view.
Politics: Politics in the modern societies can be understood as a system of organizing and
governing the public way of life and taking care of the overall interests of the citizens
Television station: a channel of information dissemination, such as the political happenings,
events, quarrels and debates, through which the audience learn, judge, analyse, makes
contexts and make informed decisions about their political leaders.
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Mass media: The use of different channels of transmission which include: the press, radio,
television and internet with specific technical-technological characteristics with which they
transmit news and other programmes.
News coverage
This is the actual style, language, positioning and viewpoint given to a story in any of the
various medium of mass communication.
Digital technology: The use computerised equipment and electronic devices to process and
disseminate news and information.

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