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PROJECT TOPIC AND MATERIAL ON POLITICAL INTERFERENCE AND REGULATORY ROLE OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

The deregulation of the broadcast media in 1992 democratised the media space and led to the establishment of the  National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate the Broadcast sector. NBC is the only body empowered to process and recommend broadcast licence for the President’s approval, through the Minister of Information. The lopsided approval of broadcast licence to political elite who are members of the ruling party has fuelled criticism among public analysts that broadcast media licence is being used for political patronage. This study examined the political interference and how the regulatory role of the NBC, affects the broadcasting industry in Nigeria.

 

The research design is a survey. The population was 1,558 broadcasters in the public and private broadcast media organisations as well as NBC officials in Lagos Nigeria. Using the criterion of professional experience of at least 15 years practice, purposive sampling was adopted in selecting senior Journalists in 8 public and private media organisations and 7 senior officials of the NBC. Consequently, 55 Key informants were interviewed from 8 public, private broadcast media organisations and NBC. The instrument was an interview guide. The Interviews from respondents were transcribed and sent via emails to ensure that responses were true reflections of their views as validity. The data were transcribed, content-analysed and thematically grouped based on research questions.

 

Findings from respondents revealed that the constitution of Nigeria and the NBC Act give room for political interference in the operations of the NBC. The constitution and the Act cover the powers of the President to grant broadcast licence while the Minister of Information controls the broadcasting regulatory agency. The study also reveals that causes of political interference are the power of the President to appoint the Director General for NBC , and the Minister of Information controls the operations of NBC as a parastaltal. The value addition of broadcast media as instrument for social, economic and political mobilisation attracted the interest of politicians to apply for broadcast licence. The study equally revealed that the effects of political interference were noticed in poor quality broadcasting, inadequate professionalism and lack of independence of the regulator.

 

The study concluded that effectiveness of the regulatory role of the NBC was inhibited by the provisions of the Constitution that enabled political interference. The study recommended the review of the Constitution, NBC Act, Broadcasting Code and the establishment of an Independent Media Commission to be managed by media stakeholders.

 

Keywords:     Political interference, NBC, Broadcast licence, Broadcast media,

Media stakeholders, Independent Media Commission

 

Word Count: 358

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page                                                                                                                                i

Certification                                                                                                                            ii

Dedication                                                                                                                                          iii

Acknowledgements                                                                                                               iv

Abstract                                                                                                                                  v

Table of Contents                                                                                                                  vi

List  of Tables                                                                                                                         vii

List of Figures                                                                                                                         viii

Abbreviations                                                                                                                           ix

Appendices                                                                                                                                x

 

CHAPTER ONE:  INTRODUCTION

  • Background to the Study                                                                                           1
  • Statement of the Problem                                            11
  • Objective of the Study                                           13
  • Research Questions                                                                                                    13
  • Justification for the Study                                                                       14
  • Scope of the Study                               14
  • Significance of the Study                                                                                          14
  • Operational  Definition of Terms                                                                               15

 

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE

2.0.      Introduction                                                                                                                16

2.1.      Conceptual Model                                                                                                                  16

2.2.      Review of Concepts                                                                                                   16

2.2.1.   Broadcast Media                                                                                                         16

2.2.2.   Broadcast Media Types                                                                                              18

  1. 2.3. Direct Monopoly Broadcasting                             19

2.2.4.   Public Broadcasting                                                                                                    20

2.2.5.   Commercial Private Broadcast Media                                                                        22

2.2.6.   Community Non –Profit Broadcasting                                                                       23

2.2.7.   Broadcasting in Nigeria                                                                                              25

2.2.8.   Broadcast Media Regulation                                                                                      29

2.2.9. Broadcast Media Deregulation                                                                                     32

2.2.10. Broadcasting Code                                                                                                     34

2.2.11. Commercialisation of News and Programmes                                                            35

2.2.12. International Perspectives                                                                                           37

2.3.      Theoretical  Literature Review                                                                                   39

2.3.1.   The Social Responsibility  Media Theory                                                                   40

2.3.2 . Democratic Participants Media Theory /Democratization Theory                              43

2.3.3    The power Elite Theory – Wright Mills 1965                                                 44

2.4.      Empirical Review                                                                                                        47

 

CHAPTER     THREE: METHODOLOGY                                                                            

3.0       Introduction                                                                                                                60

3.1.      Research Design                                                                                                         60

3.2.      Population                                                                                                                   60

3.3.      Sample size   and sampling Technique                                                                       61

3.4.      Research Instrument                                                                                                   63

3.5.      Validity of the Research Instrument                                                                           63

3.6.      Reliability of Research Instrument                                                                             64

3.7.      Administration of Data Collection                                                                             64

3.8.      Method of Data Analysis                                                                                            64

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS, RESULTS

   AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

4.0       Introduction                                                                                                                65

4.1       Presentation and Analysis of Data                                                                       66

4.2       Discussion of Findings                                                                                                96

4.3       A truly Independent broadcast media regulator for Nigeria                                      96

 

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND          

  RECOMMENDATIONS

5.0       Introduction                                                                                                                102

5.1       Summary                                                                                                                     102

5.2       Conclusion                                                                                                                  104

5.3       Recommendations                                                                                                     105

5.4       Suggestions for further studies                                                                                   106

5.5       Contribution to Knowledge                                                                                        106

5.6       Limitation of the Study                                                                                              107

References                                                                                                                              109

Interview Guide                                                                                                                      120

Appendices                                                                                                                            122

 

LIST OF TABLES

Table                                                                                                                                           Page

  1. Media Policy Diagram – D. McQuail and K.Siune (1988)             19
  2. Sample Size of Radio and Television station From Public &

Private Broadcast Organisations who breach the NBC Code                                          61

  1. Sample Size of Respondents from Public & Private Broadcast Organisations           62
  2. Sample Size for Respondents @ NBC Officials in Lagos Office        62

4.1.1 Distribution of NBC Officials’ Departments                                                                66

4.2.1 Distribution of Category of Broadcast Stations                                                                        68

4.3.1   Distribution of Ownership of Broadcast Stations.                                                     69

4.4.1 Distribution of Year of Experience of Staff of the Broadcast Stations.                                   71

4.5.1   Distribution of Editorial Staff                                                                                                72

4.5.2 Summary Responses of Interview and Themes for Discussion                                     74

4.5.3 List of Ownership of Broadcast Media in Nigeria (Businessmen/ Journalists)             88

4.5.4 List of Ownership Broadcast Media in Nigeria (Politicians)                                         89

4.5.5 List of Media Regulators Agencies in West Africa                                                       98

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure                                                                                                                                  Page

1: Bar chart showing the distribution of NBC Officials Department                               66

2:  Pie Chart showing the distribution of NBC Department                                            66

3: Bar chart showing the category of Broadcast Stations                                                67

4: Pie chart showing the category of Broadcast Station                                                  68

5: Bar chart showing the ownership of selected Broadcast stations                                69

6: Bar chart showing the year of experience of staff of the broadcast station                69

7: Bar chart showing the years of experience of NBC Officials                                     70

8: Bar chart showing distribution of Editorial staff of selected broadcast station         71

9: Pie chart showing the distribution of Editorial staff of selected broadcast                             stations                                                                                                                   72

  1. Pie chart showing the distribution of Editorial staff of selected broadcast stations                                                                                                        72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABBREVIATIONS

AIT: African Independent Television

BON: Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria

BCNN: Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria

BBC:  British Broadcasting Corporation

ETF: Economic Freedom Fighters

FCC: Federal Communications Commission

FRCN: Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria

DA: Democratic Alliance

DG:   Director General

GM:  General Manager

IBAN: Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria

MBI: Minaj Broadcast International

MRA: Media Rights Agenda

NTA: Nigerian Television Authority

NTS: Nigerian Television Services

NBC: Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation

NBC: National Broadcasting Commission, Nigeria.

NMC: National Media Commission, Ghana.

NCA: National Communication Authority, Ghana

OFCOM: Office of Communication, United Kingdom

RC: Radio Continental

ICASA: Independent Communication Authority of South Africa

SABC: South African Broadcasting Corporation

STV: Silverbird Television

TVC: Television Continental

U.H.F: Ultra High Frequency

V.H.F: Very High Frequency

VON: Voice of Nigeria

WNBC: Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation

WNBS: Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study  

Politics and media are interwoven and critical to sustainable democracy because both involve the people, process of communication, utilization of resources and decision making. Kolade and Yankah, (1997), submitted that “politics and broadcast media are mutually beneficial because people must communicate with one another and the sovereign power of the people is not negotiable within the context of party politics and the broadcast media”. (p. 7). Omu and Oboh (2008) also noted that broadcast media play significant role in the conduct of politics in any country, (p. 10), Hence, Ogor (2002) posited that in a democratic society broadcasting is the “Oxygen of Democracy” (p. 74). It breathes life into political activities, makes government accountable to the people and an avenue for feedback on government policies, programmes and initiatives. Against this background,  Ogor (2002) stated “it is the responsibility of the broadcast media to help increase the level of general awareness and mobilisation of the populace and even  as an active participant in the shaping of democratic values through education and public enlightenment”, (p.86).

This postulation therefore set the stage for the  commencement of broadcasting in Nigeria in 1933 through  the  “Redifussion Service” on Glover Street, Lagos to broadcast the policy of the then Governor General of Nigeria, Sir Macpherson. The Redifussion service, an offshore radio service from Britain could be described as a product of politics, self interests and assertiveness by the British colonial power to broadcast news from Britain to its colony – Nigeria. The colonial power controls the operations of the Redifussion Service in terms of contents and programmes, modelled after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), operated as a state monopoly. The control of the Redifussion service was the first attempt at broadcast media regulation by government. To accentuate the colonial government  monopoly on the broadcast media, in 1956, the colonial  government enacted an Act of Parliament (Ordinance No 39) enabling the conversion of Redifussion service from the BBC control apparatus to Nigerian Broadcasting Service, (NBS). Its role then was to regulate the operations of radio station in terms of ethical standard of fairness, objectivity and balance of news and programmes, NBC (2002) noted.

 

By 1957, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, (NBC), came into existence to replace NBS, as the broadcasting regulator. “In October 1959, the famous Western Nigerian Television/Broadcasting Service, (WNTV/WNBS) funded by the Western regional government under late the Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group was established. According Ejiofor,(2002), “WNTV/WNBS” was founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo  to have a voice and a right of reply to the central government broadcasting station- “the Redifussion Service”. The Redifussion Service had turned down the request of the then late Premier of Western Region to reply to an allegation against him by the Colonial government. In 1960, Eastern Region Government set up its own television service, Eastern Nigerian Television Service,(ENTS). This was followed by Radio Television Kaduna established by the former Northern Nigerian Government, an arm of the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria, (BCNN), in March, 1962. In the same year, the Federal government established the Nigerian Television Service, (NTS) in Lagos. The (NTS) later changed its name to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation /Television, (NBC/TV). All the regional broadcast stations in Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu were merged under the NBC/TV. The radio arm came under the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) through military directive. Later in the same year, General Olusegun Obasanjo led federal military administration took over these television stations in 1978 and changed the name to the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA).  The main media regulatory agency in the early broadcast years was Posts and Telecommunications which later changed to the Ministry of Information and Culture till now.

The defining moment for the broadcast media in Nigeria came in 1992, a new broadcast media regulatory authority, the National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC),  was established. This was in response to plurality of the broadcast media as practised in the liberal democracies of the world.  In Nigeria, surprisingly, broadcast media plurality started under the military government, when the NBC decree No 38 of 1992 was promulgated by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, deregulating the broadcast industry for creativity and competition.

 

 

 

 

 

The National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC) in Nigeria

The NBC is the Nigerian broadcast regulatory authority, set up in 1992 by the Ibrahim Babangida administration as the first success story of broadcast media deregulation. The essence of deregulation of the broadcasting media was aptly couched in the words of Igbako (2005):

 

Deregulation took its root in the overall policy of structural adjustment programme, SAP, of the military regime in the late 80’s to early 90s. The policy known as SAP, did not work in isolation as the political class needed more avenues to ventilate their views and mobilise support for their organizations just as advertisers clamoured for widening of the ownership base of broadcasting against background of the asphyxiating hold of the federal and states governments on broadcasting, (p. 4).

 

The pioneering Director- General was Dr Tom Adaba and Bright Igbako became the Secretary. There were 12 board members drawn from the media, academics, law, business and the Ministry of Information.

 

The  first board members were : Mr Peter Enahoro, Veteran Journalist, as Chairman, Dr Tom Adaba, Veteran Broadcaster, Director General, Dr Dotun Okunbanjo, businessman and public commentator, Alhaji Shehu Usman Ka’oje, a senior public official from the  National Orientation Agency,T.J.O Okpoko, Senior Advocate of Nigeria ,former President Nigeria Bar Association,Mr Ede Dafinione, Chartered Accountant, Mrs Modupe Adeogun a retired University Administrator, Professor Elo Amucheazi, a political scientist from University of Nigeria Nsukka, Mr Ralph Opara,Veteran radio broadcaster, Chief Akin Odunsi,Rosabel Advertising, Alhaji Sani Kontagora, a publisher, Alhaji Sidi Ali, Journalist, politician and businessman and a representative of the Ministry of Information.

 

The administrative structure of the Commission covers, the Board, the Director – General, Board of Management and expanded Board of management. The Director -General appointed in 2016 is Mallam Ishaq Modibo Kawu, a former member of the Board of the Commission.   For administrative convenience, there are 10 zonal offices located in Abuja, Jos, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Ibadan, Lagos, Benin, and Uyo to handle the statutory responsibilities of the commission on the ever increasing broadcast media in Nigeria. Each of the zones has a Zonal Director.  According to the NBC website (2017), the Commission’s administrative set up is now divided into eleven  departments and three units, namely, Directorate of Monitoring, Finance and Accounts, Engineering/Technology, Human Resources Management, Broadcast Policy Research , Investigation and Enforcement .

 

Other directorates are Secretary to the Commission, Office of the Director General – Public Affairs, Director General Office and Internal Audit Department. The three units within the Director General’s office were, Public Procurement, Servicom, Anti –Corruption and Transparency. Three directorates, Monitoring, Broadcast Policy and Research as well as Investigation and Enforcement are germane to this study.

 

Statutory Role of NBC

In line with the act establishing the NBC, Idachaba (2015), Ihechu and Okugo (2013), averred  that NBC regulatory functions are in line with the implementation of the National Mass Communication policy, which covers national motivation, mobilisation and the attainment of national or public interests,  (p. 25) and (p. 14).

 

Broadcast Licensing 

This is the first major statutory function of the NBC for the operation of a broadcast media in Nigeria. According to the NBC (2012), the procedure for a broadcast license starts with purchase, processing and consideration of applications for the ownership of radio and television stations including cable television services, direct satellite broadcast and any other medium of broadcasting. Applicants must have a limited liability company with the Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC. Applications are subject to rules and regulation on its website- www.nbc.gov.ng.

 

The application fee is N50, 000, fifty thousand naira non refundable. The processing entails viability and economic status of a given area. There were three categories of applications, A, B and C for urban, semi urban or rural areas spectrum or frequency allocation and its cost. Lagos, Abuja, and Portharcourt as commercial centres and capital cities fall under category A. The cost of licence fee is between N15 and N20 million naira for radio and television. Akure, Ibadan, Kaduna, Kano ,Jos ,Maiduguri, were under category B, while all the remaining  cities  like ,Owerri,  Dutse, Damaturu, Ikot Ekpene  attract less licence fee of N10 million naira.  For Ikot Ekpene, Eruwa, and Shagari village the licensing fee is below N10 million naira.

Despite the categorisation of licensing fees, the Freedom House Report (2015) suggested that the broadcast media are complaining over the high fees in line with the economic realities in the country.

 

The report emphasised:

 

Licensing fees and taxes for broadcast media remain high, and many outlets experience financial difficulties, limiting their viability. The only two nationwide broadcast networks are state-owned: the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). However, in 2010 the NBC awarded the first private radio and television network license to Silverbird Communications, which had outbid two other private competitors for the licenses, (p. 10).

 

Other requirements for a broadcast license include the editorial and programmes of radio and television stations, its philosophy and personnel scrutinised by broadcast experts from the NBC. The promoters must swear under oath that the broadcast station if granted licence will promote national unity and cohesion. Similarly, the proposed broadcast station must state its engineering capacity such as type of mast, tower or guarded, transmitter type, antenna and VTR – Video Tape Recorders for TV, and Audio equipment for Radio. These facilities will be inspected by the NBC Engineers.

 

The application form clearly states that only Nigerians by birth and naturalisation can own or promote terrestrial stations while foreigners can provide services for cable broadcast operations. The Financial capacity of the promoter (promoters) is equally evaluated through bank reference by the commission. These are strict conditions for processing and eventual granting of broadcast licences. See appendix for the NBC Form. Once the application is verified and satified by NBC officials, a recommendation is sent to the President by the Director- General through the Minister of Information   for approval. A broadcast licence is renewable after five years. Only the President, Commander in Chief, has the sole power to grant the licence according to the constitution. Nwanze (2003) argued that “the provision of this law subjects the licensing procedure to political manipulations and considerations especially under the democratic rule”, (p. 250). The broadcast license can be revoked by the NBC, if the broadcast stations breach the rules and regulations specified in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, referred to as “The Code”.

 

 

Content Monitoring

Content Monitoring of broadcast stations in Nigeria is done through strict adherence to programme schedules containing local and foreign contents as contained in the “Broadcasting Code’, published by the NBC. The Broadcasting Code guides the operations of the licensed broadcast stations.NBC Broadcasting code (2012) provides a minimum of 60 per cent local broadcast content for television and 80 per cent for radio.

 

The cable /retransmission stations are expected to reflect a minimum of 20 per cent. Ihechu  and  Okugo (2013) concluded  that “ the standards for  Nigeria local content specifies that programmes and advertisements for family belt shall be devoid of sex or overt sexual behaviour, nudity, violence, bloodletting, smoking, alcohol, drug abuse, denigration of womanhood,offensive,lewd or vulgar language, expression and presentation”, (p. 16). NBC (2009) also spelt out family belt to be between the hours of 7pm and 10pm daily-a period when the family as a unit is presumed to be together watching television. It is on record that the broadcast regulatory authority has sanctioned both private and public television stations on violation of this provision. (p. 18). Innocent and Uzoma (2013) said NBC’s inability to effectively monitor the contents of radio and television broadcasts especially as related to the foreign content broadcast was obvious in the broadcast especially music and entertainments on radio and television. Some FM stations  fill most air time with foreign  music and television do the same with Mexican soaps which has  gradually taken over  from  broadcasts of Nigerian dramas .Most astonishing is  the telecast of  “Big Brother Africa “ programme on  a satellite channel. Innocent &Uzoma (p. 2) remarked.

 

Sanctions

A sanction for broadcast stations by the NBC comes as a result of violation or breach of the broadcasting code. Again MRA (2001) classified the sanctions into revocation of licence, shutting down of or sealing up of a station or transmitter, seizure or forfeiture of equipment and suspension of licence.  Another category of sanction is, warning letter(s) to remedy a breach within a given time failing which a fine will be imposed. (p. 22). The last category includes fines and stiffer sanctions for not complying with earlier sanctions. This is divided into three categories, A, B and C, see appendix. In category A, the sanction attracts payment of two  million naira, temporary  seizure of licence operation and even closure of the stations if there is a breach of national unity or corporate existence, violent, unrests, orchestrated by a broadcast station. Category B attracts 500,000 naira to fine for contravention. Category C can be warning and fine ranging between 50,000 and 200,000 naira as stated in the NBC code 2012.

 

However, the NBC uses discretion for sanctioning on minor breaches like late submission of quarterly programme schedules among others. In the run up to the 2003 elections, the state owned media, NTA supported the second term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo, to use its platform for campaigns, while his opposition party counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari was not given the same opportunity during political campaigns. This obviously was against the NBC code on political coverage section which says” no broadcaster shall deny any person, party or group a right of broadcast of a political advertisement”. NBC could not enforce the law, Bello (2010) states.

 

In October 2005, African Independent Television, AIT and Ray Power FM, were sanctioned over the coverage of the Bellview Air crash. Adaba FM  Akure , was also sanctioned for an alleged inappropriate  election coverage of the then ruling party , Peoples Democratic Party, PDP campaigns  in Ondo and Ekiti states. Adaba FM was closed down in 2009, but it went to court for redress. The court not only reversed the closure but asked the NBC to pay compensation to the station.  Media Right Agenda, MRA, a media rights group refers to these sanctions as inappropriate as state owned broadcast media are also partisan in the coverage of electioneering campaigns and other breach of broadcasting code.

 

Abati (2007) described  the broadcast of Big Brother Africa, as instruments of pornography and money spinning  and House of Representatives (2008), says “ the broadcast shows the weakness of NBC to protect the viewers cultural heritage and moral persuasions”,  (p.2). The Freedom House Report (2015) re-echoed the dilemma of strict sanction of NBC on foreign broadcast as far back as 2004, “a 2004 NBC ban on the live rebroadcast of foreign programs, including news, on domestic stations remains in force. However, international broadcasters such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America remain key sources of news in the country”, (p. 12).

 

 

 

It was also noticeable that NBC could not enforce the law against traditional medicine seller advertisement for HIV/AIDS broadcast by the Islamic Medicine centers on Kano Radio and Freedom Radio, which are against the NBC code (2012) section 7.3.5, which states an advertisement shall not be broadcast if it contains an offer of a medicine or product or an advice relating to the treatment of serious diseases, complaints,conditions,indicationsor symptoms, which should rightly received the attention of a registered medical practitioner.  Bello & Ashiru, (2010) agreed on this submission, (p.10).

 

NBC equally had challenges to sanction broadcast stations who broadcast live religious programmes over four hours especially in the Northern part of the country due to political pressures from the elites who allegedly uses religion to wipe – up sentiments. A good example is the religious programme on Kano Am radio which contravenes section 4.3.1 sub section 1 of the NBC Code (2012). (p.5).

 

Arbitration

Under this role, the NBC is expected to intervene in a professional misunderstanding between or among broadcast stations especially broadcast rights as noted in Euro 2000, Sydney Olympics 2000, and 2009 FIFA World Cup. Here stakeholders accused NBC of bias. The disputes were between Channels TV and NTA, in one instance and NTA and AIT, in another respect. On Euro 2000, NBC ruled against Channels TV over obtaining broadcast rights from TV Africa, because the station was not registered in Nigeria. It gave NTA the broadcast right. In September, 2000, NBC ruled that only NTA and FRCN, members of Union of Radio and Television Association, URTNA have the broadcast rights to 2000 Sydney Olympics.  AIT acquired the broadcast rights for then telecast of FIFA 2009 Junior World Cup from FIFA, over and above the state run NTA. The regulator ruled that only NTA should have the broadcast rights. This was however overturned by FIFA in favour of AIT. (Ihechu &Okugo,2013, p.17)

 

 Funding of NBC

The NBC is funded through appropriation from the country annual budgetary provision as approved by the parliament. According to the NBC Act 1992, third Schedule, the broadcast regulator is entitled to a percentage of licence fee and levy from the annual income of the licensed broadcast stations. Other sources of income are broadcast license fee, renewal and sale of spectrum. (NBC Code 2012,p.175).

 

Between Broadcast Regulation and Deregulation

Two issues, broadcast regulation and deregulation are also germane to this study in putting into perspectives the historical background of the broadcast media in Nigeria. Media regulation is the legal platform for the establishment of broadcast media in Nigeria, Goke (2013) noted.  It is a total control of the ownership, funding and control of the broadcast media in Nigeria.  Harvey (1999, p. 2) said media regulation generally “involves intervention by the state in areas of economic, social or cultural life according to whatever political norms of that Nation or state…. It may be issued by presidential decree or by legislative action within a system of representative democracy” According to the NBC (2002), broadcast media regulation in Nigeria started in 1933 with the establishment the Redifussion Service under of auspices of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

 

An Act of parliament (Ordinance No 39) was introduced in 1956 to establish the National Broadcasting Service. By 1957, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation was set up.  After the independence in 1960, the government control was sustained by the Ministry of Information and Culture under the military to the civilian administration until 1992 when deregulation was introduced with the establishment of the National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC). This was done through the NBC Act NO 38 of 1992, amended in 1999.

 

The deregulation of the broadcast media is described as the reduction in the government control of the broadcast media to create more entry and participation for the private ownership of radio and television in Nigeria. (NBC 2002, p.7) stated. Accordingly, what was remarkable about the deregulation in 1992 was the entry of more private investors in the broadcast industry which led to healthy competition between the state and private owned broadcast media, Goke et al (2013, p.1) indicated.

 

Television was the first major attraction to the new broadcast media owners under the deregulation more than radio, although some of the investors had both television and radio licences. The first set of private  television licenses according to NBC (2005) were , Galaxy Pictures  in Ibadan, Desmims Broadcast,Kaduna;Triple Heritage Communications Limited, Abuja; Degue (DBN),Lagos; IBW in Benin; Clapperboard( Universal), Lagos; Murhi International, Otta now in Lagos; Minaj Systems Limited, Obosi,TDC Broadcasting Limited , Lagos; Prime Television Limited, Ikorodu; Triax Company Nigeria Limited, Enugu; Independent Broadcast Network, Warri; Channels Incorporated, Lagos; DAAR Communications Limited (Raypower 100FM and African Independent Television, AIT),Abuja and Vibrant Communications Limited, Aba. The Cable/ Satellite Television in 1993 were 51 stations from 10 companies, meant for (Direct – To- Home Television Service, DTHS), (p. 8).

 

Eighteen more companies were approved to undertake multichannel direct-to-home television services. Only three are in operations in 2016. They are Multichoice Limited (DSTV) in Lagos, Communication Trend (Trend TV) in Lagos and Fam-sum-ben Limited (Frontage TV), also based in Lagos. Cable / Satellite Television (Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service, MMDS) licensed by the NBC since inception were 66, both for public and the private media groups.  Half of the broadcast stations are operational. Some of them are: Ebonyi state owned station, Abakaliki, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG Company, Bonny, Multimesh in Portharcourt and Power Cable Company in Surulere, Lagos. For Terrestrial Television, NBC licensed 147.Out of these, federal government owned Nigerian Television Authority, NTA had 99.At least one of these stations are located in each senatorial zone of the country. States government had 34 television stations, while14 are owned by private companies.

Remarkably, the first set of radio and television under deregulation were subjected to public scrutiny through a public hearing by the NBC Between 1999 and 2002, a business tycoon, Chief Adebayo Akande, is the owner of Splash FM Ibadan, Chief Alex Duduyemi, is the Chief Executive Officer, Rainbow FM and politicians such as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of Goethe FM, Bola Tinubu of TVC/RC and Raymond Dokpesi of African Independent Television, (AIT) and Ray Power FM among others have taken advantage of the economic and political opportunities in the broadcast media to add to their economic and political interest. Today, the numbers of both the private broadcast media organisation has increased significantly. See the appendix for the lists of radio and television station in Nigeria by the NBC.

 

 

In 2002, during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the licences of twenty one broadcast stations were not subjected to public scrutiny. Many of the broadcast station are    owned by political stalwarts of the ruling PDP and selected members of the opposition, APC. In 2014, during President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure , more broadcast licenses were granted to politicians within the same ruling party  namely Crown FM, Ile Ife owned by Chief Iyiola Omisore, Parrot FM, Ogbomosho. (NBC 2016 Station profile Ibadan Zone).

 

1.2 Statement of the Problem

No doubt the deregulation of the broadcast media has led to an exponential increase in the number of radio and television stations from both the government and the private investors across Nigeria. However, these owners have varied interests ranging from economic, political, in contrast to public interests. Ibrahim (2000) put the interests of politicians who are owners of broadcast stations in perspective, “politicians themselves believe that they need the media (broadcast inclusive) before they can win and retain supporters. They also count on the support of the media before they could sway the undecided voters to their side and gain in-road into opposition’s camp”. Radio and television becomes so attractive. (p. 9).

While government or state owned broadcast station is promoting the political interest, the private owners of radio and television are alleged to promoting both political and commercial interests. These are reflected in the news slant and programmes especially during the campaigns for the general elections between 2003 and 2015. Bamgbose (2004), a former President of Radio and Television, Thearter Workers Union, (RATTAWU), expressed these concerns among others during the UNDP capacity development programme for the media in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He stated:

today, the public broadcast and private media are partisan and promoting the interests of its promoters. The messages in the public media are tuned towards the ruling party, while some of the private broadcast media are now allegedly owned by businessmen, investors and media professionals who have sympathy for one political party or the order.

 

Sada (2002) equally submitted that “there is no gainsaying that the broadcast media in the country are partisan. To him, “broadcast stations across the country are now identified with one political party or the other”, (p. 5). Goke, Odegbenle, Jegede (2013, p.2) also observed concerns about programme content on the broadcast media post deregulation. They observed that the NBC broadcasting Code requirements section 3.12, 3.13 .2.2 to 3.14 are not strictly adhered to. The sections were specific on 60 to 40 per cent local programme content and 80 per cent of all music broadcast on free –to – air terrestrial broadcasts has suffered serious setbacks in favour of the foreign programmes especially from the private broadcast media stations.

 

Since the advent of democratic rule in Nigeria 1999, unethical conduct among some media practitioners in the broadcast industry has been a recurring decimal despite the operations of the broadcasting code published by the NBC. Arogundade (2014) remarked in his opening address at the UNDP/IPC media forum on ethical conduct during 2015 elections. These inadequacies are noticeable in the breach of broadcasting code especially on content of news and currents affairs in relation to political broadcasts. These unethical conducts are contrary to standard of fairness and balance in the NBC(2012) broadcast code sections 5.1.12, 5.1.13, 5.1.14, 5.2.1, 5.2.4 to 5.2.8 as outlined:

News and Current Affairs programmes shall be guided by the ethical standards of Journalism. Programmes devoted to the discussion of a matter of public interest shall ensure fairness and balance. The selection of news stories shall emphasise good taste, avoiding morbid, sensational, shocking or alarming details that are not essential to conveying the essence of the events being reported (p. 66, 67and 68).

 

 

Despite these breaches of the broadcasting code, it has been alleged that the NBC had been unable to appropriate sanction and if they do only private broadcast stations are sanctioned as Media Rights Agenda, (MRA 2010) observed. “No public funded broadcast stations were closed or license suspended. But the private broadcast media outfits have faced stiffer sanctions. No broadcast license has been revoked or withdrawn despite several warnings of deliberate breaches of the broadcasting code”. At the 2010 consultative meeting of the Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria, (IBAN), that the NBC seems not to be neutral and media practitioners have observed that the regulatory agency seems not to be independent. If the NBC is hesitant to sanction a federal government or public owned broadcast media? Can it be said that the broadcast regulatory agency is truly independent? What will be the fate of an inequitable broadcasting practice in Nigeria? Is the ideal standard of broadcasting an utopian in Nigeria? What could be responsible for the apparent lapses? Could it be the nature of the political interference? Are there reforms that can be made to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code? Against these numerous challenges faced the NBC; this study unravels some of the challenges facing the broadcast regulatory agency, NBC, as the democratic journey continues in Nigeria

 

1.3 Objective of the Study

The general objective of the study is to find out the nature of political interference and how it has affected the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC. The specific objectives are to:

  1. identify the nature of political interference affecting the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC;
  2. examine the causes of the political interference on the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC;
  3. evaluate the effect of political interference on the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC and
  4. identify the reforms that are meant to address political interference on the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.

 

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the nature of political interference affecting the role of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC?
  2. What are the causes of political interference affecting the statutory roles of the NBC?
  3. In what ways are the effects of political interference impacting on the regulatory role of the NBC?
  4. How can reforms of the NBC Act solve the political interference on the regulatory role of the NBC?

 

 

 

1.5. Justification for the Study

One of the ingredients of a successful democracy is plurality of the media, where people have options to get information, education and entertainment. To guard the excesses of the operations of these increasing numbers of broadcast media in a democracy, there is need for an independent broadcast regulator like the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC. Since its operations in 1992, media scholars have not been able to study the role of political influence on its statutory roles as the ownership and control of the media are open to all.  The question is how independent is the broadcast regulator to curb the inadequacies of the broadcast stations. In the last 18 years does the NBC act not in need of reforms? Therefore, understanding the major impediments to the independence of the NBC and suggestions of reforms on the enabling law of the broadcasting regulator are germane to this study.

 

1.6       Scope of the Study

The study covered political interference and regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission from 1999 to 2016. This period was chosen to underscore the level of political pressures and interference on the statutory roles of the NBC. The study is also restricted to the broadcast media organisations in Lagos because the headquarters and major operations of most the media organisations in Nigeria are located in Nigeria’s commercial city.

 

1.7       Significance of the Study

This study put into perspectives the underline factors for political interference on the regulatory roles of the NBC in the actualisation of the statutory roles for the broadcast industry under the democratic rule, which has not been done before now.

Similarly, this is a  study conducted by a broadcast professional   filling  the gaps in literature on broadcast media regulations as it affects the broadcast regulator in Nigeria which hitherto has been dominated more  by legal scholars  to the consternation of media professionals as noted by Harvey,(1999,p. I). In the words of Ihechu and Okugo (2010), “the study of broadcasting regulations has started to creep into edges of media studies curriculum and the wind of change should be welcomed”, (p.12). The findings of the study would further benefit broadcast organisations and regulators globally as reference materials in the area of broadcast regulations. The study is equally coming at a time the review of the Nigeria Broadcasting code is under review, the findings and recommendations would be useful to the stakeholders in the broadcast industry engaged in the review.

 

1.8. Operational Definition of Terms

These are terms which occur in this research and are defined to enable readers understand the appropriate context in which they have been used.

 Broadcasting: This is the transmission of information through signals across to viewers through radio, television and online, according to broadcast station’s schedules.

 Regulations: These are rules guiding operations of broadcast stations. It is compiled in a booklet called “Nigeria Broadcasting Code”, published by the National Broadcasting Commission and put together by stakeholders in the broadcasting industry. The Broadcasting Code is reviewed every four years.

Broadcast Stations: These are electronic media organisations that inform, educate and entertain viewers and listeners through the Television, Radio as well as online through audio and video streaming outlets. These broadcast stations are licensed and regulated by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.

 Political Interference

This is the involvement of government in the operations of broadcast stations and the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.

 National Broadcasting Commission, NBC: This is the sole broadcast media regulatory agency in Nigeria, statutorily empowered by the constitution through a decree in 1992 and act of parliament in 1999 to licence, monitor, and sanction radio and television stations in Nigeria. It publishes a broadcasting code to guide the operations of the radio and television stations across the country. The code is reviewed every four years.

 The Broadcasting Code: The broadcasting code is a booklet which contains the “rules of engagements guiding broadcasting operations in Nigeria. It spells out the dos and don’ts on radio, television, satellite and cable transmission. Popularly known as “The code”.

 Broadcast Regulation: This is the government control of the ownership of the broadcast media.

 Broadcast Deregulation: This is government attempt to allow more participation, ownership and control of the broadcast media.

 

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