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It is not just good enough to obtain license, establish and start running a community radio station.The success of any organization is hinged on the fulfillment of the objectives of that organization.It is based on this premise that this research work is carried out to examine the present operational nature of Nnamdi Azikiwe University AwkaCommunity Radio Station Unizik 94.1 FM in comparison with the Objectives of its establishment, trying to find out the challenges (if any) and prospects of the radio station in the process with the hope that it will be useful to the university management and the Department of Mass Communication on issues concerning the operation of the radio station, policy adjustments, funding and equipping.
Various researches confirm that radio has the capacity to reach large audiences, both young and old, including those in remote, underdeveloped and impoverished areas of the developing world.
According to Bosch (2007), in the absence of other forms of media such as television and newspapers, radio has proven to be a powerful and vital means of entertainment and communication that guarantees community involvement in the communication process. Further researches show that radio is renowned for providing communities with up-to-date local and international information in their own languages accompanied by various music genres that are compatible with diverse cultural inclinations (Mmusi, 2002, p.3; National Community Radio Forum, 1993, p.10).
The development of digital radio and its capacity to integrate or network with various Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), through convergence, has arguably placed radio as the world’s most successful ICT to date that reaches millions of listeners everyday (National Community Radio Forum, 1993, p6). While the traditional functions of national radio, especially Public Broadcasting Service, cannot be underestimated, community radio serves as a “niche” of the media landscape that serves as a primary source of reliable information for the entire population (Dunaway, 2002, p.4). As such, the sector has continued to provide news and information relevant to the needs of community members in the form of a medium which empowers them politically, socially and economically, through locally produced and oriented media content (Wigston, 2001; Fraser & Estrada, 2001). This is evident in the kind of programming that reflects people’s needs with regard to education, information, and entertainment to all language and cultural groups in the country (Mmusi, 2002;Teer-Tomaselli, 1995).
Although radio is not a new phenomenon, private ownership, control of programming, content and operation is relatively a recent phenomenon. It has been gaining strength throughout the world in recent years most especially in developing countries. As a result, private FM and community radio has attracted the attention of many international development organizations as an optimal resource to be developed in the struggle for democracy, the fight against disease, and the preservation of local language and culture (Blackson, 2005).
Furthermore, radio is scholarly proven to be the perfect medium for mass communication. If we compare radio to other mass media, it’s consistently ranks as the most popular means of information dissemination, regardless of the continent. The interactive appeal of radio has distinguished it as an effective medium above other tools of mass media. What makes radio particularly appealing is its interactivity, its capacity to provoke dialogue and solicit the participation of local populations (Baran, 2003).
Historically, radio broadcasting began in Nigeria in 1932 as a redistribution of service by the Post and Telegraph Department, which received and relayed BBC news through what was called REDIFUSSION (Radio Diffusion). Eight years later in 1951 the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) was established, marking the birth of true broadcasting in the country.Along the line, NBS transformed to Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in 1956, which was position to have an external service called (Voice of Nigeria) in 1961. NBC is now the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), restricted to domestic broadcasting , VON was excised from FRCN in 1990, given full autonomy and exclusive power to broadcast externally by radio from Nigeria (Okpanachi,2008; Ebuna 2009).
In 1939, a station was opened in Ibadan, Kano station was commissioned in 1949 while between 1945 to 1949 stations had been opened in towns like Kaduna, Enugu, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, Jos, Zaria, Calabar and port-Harcourt as relay stations.
In Nigeria, radio broadcasting industry have been spreading very fast, motivated by several factors such as language, politics, religion and education. Technical and technological reasons should be added as these have enabled a very fast proliferation of radio stations in Nigeria, during the last thirty years. Each of the Nigerian states opted for own radio and TV stations, as well as the universities. Radio stations have been established in Nigeria at a rate of five (5) stations a year. Nigeria has the fourth largest radio network in the world, with constantly growing staff and the figure of imported programmes going constantly down (Egbuna, 2009).
Prior to the circulation of National Broadcasting Commission Decree No. 38 of 1992 by the Federal Government on August 24, 1992, the ownership, control and operation of broadcasting stations in Nigeria was the exclusive preserve of various governments- Federal, State, and Regional. There is an increasing choice of radio channels, and the awareness it help creates increase numbers of community based stations for the educational and information need of society (Umeh, 1989).
The first Frequency Modulation (FM) in Nigeria was commissioned on April 22, 1977. It was known then as Radio Nigeria 2 (Metro FM). A year later when NBC was re-organized, the state stations were handed over to State Governments and NBC was left with only Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Kaduna which became Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) (Akingbulu, 2010). Radio broadcasting in Nigeria was carried out mainly on medium and shortwave bands until April 1977 when the FRCN launched Radio Nigeria 2, AM/ FM stereo in Lagos on the FM band. The FM band is now the most widely used in the country as most radio stations in Nigeria 1992 following which a regulator the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was established and private radio stations emerged.
Community radio has been defined as radio broadcasting situated within the sphere of community media. Community media according to Oso, (2003:4) is made up of localized media that serves as an alternative to mainstream media as well as the profit motivated commercialized media. To Fuller (2007:224-226), community media may be defined as those media which members of the community have access for information, education, and entertainment when they want and community participates as planners, producers, and performers, supplementing the mainstream media on both organizational and content levels. Thus, among the various types of community media, radio is scholarly considered as the perfect medium for mass communication.
Despite the suffice advantages of radioas being one of the cheapest and accessible mass communications technologies, some stations still struggle to survive. In Nigeria and elsewhere, many community radio stations operate in situations of dire need despite having been set up confident that local needs would ensure community support in the form of volunteering, in-kind support and donations (Simmering & Fairbairn, 2007p.7).In addition, some poor communities faced with high unemployment and lack of access to infrastructure view the sector as providers of income and resources such as gaining access to telephones, photocopiers, the Internet, training opportunities and above all, paid work rather than as initiatives needing community support. For example, “the early experiences of community radio projects in South Africa, where volunteers rebelled, staged sit-ins and strikes, stole equipment and CDs, or simply abandoned stations when they realized there was insufficient income to pay salaries, are testimony to this” (Simmering & Fairbairn, 2007, p.7). Due to such circumstances, there are community radio stations that are deeply rooted in rural communities and serve community needs and interests, but have abandoned their community origins and are little more than jukeboxes (Simmering & Fairbairn, 2007, p.10).
Regardless of the legal structure, the policies and objectives of community media are articulated with a strong input from stakeholders within the community. Community members have both a sense of ownership and a real ability to shape the station to suit their wishes and needs. Its specific focus is to make its audience the main protagonists, by their involvement in all aspects of its management, and programme production, and providing them with a programming that will help in the development and social advancement of their community (Fraser & Estrada, 2001, p.4)
1.1.5 BRIEF HISTORY OF UNIZIK 94.1FM
Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka was one of ten Universities and Polytechnics that received the license from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on 8th February 2017 to operate a radio station. The license was issued in Abuja to the Head of the Department of Mass communication, by Dr. Kate Azuka Omenugha. Before its creation, UNILAG FM of the University has in existence for three years and it only the campus radio station operation in the country then. Therefore UNIZIk FM is among the first set of campus community radio station in the country Nigeria.
Community radio stations offer concrete means for public participation and defense for cultural diversity. “Participation is the engine of democracy and community radio is a tool for participation” (Jordan, 2006, p.1). The strengths of community radio, lies mainly in the horizontality and diversity of its operational structure. Its organizational structure is an expression of the bottom up framework, which is reflective of a community network of universes, multiple languages, and expressions of differences. This diversity actualizes the representation of the excluded, the survival of historic memories, of cultural diversity and an equitable approach to addressing community radio issues like UNIZIK FM.
UNIZIK FM radio station is based in its community and accountable to it. Usually the community is defined geographically, although its size can range from a small town, to a city, or a vast rural area covering thousands of square kilometers. Some community stations can also serve particular communities of interest such as women, youth or linguistic and cultural minorities (Girard, 2007).
To consider today’s role and use of campus community radio raises the questions of its place in new African and Nigerian media landscape, and in particular in the radio environment marked by deregulation and the end of broadcast monopolies that has proliferated the radio landscape and so position it for a more effective educational broadcast programming with over 187 functional radio stations.
Even though Nigeria has opened up its airwaves and allowed for independent commercial and community radio stations, there are legal and political loopholes for community radio stations. However, this exception can be addressed with clearly defined three-tier broadcasting system, namely public, commercial and community. In addition, there has been tremendous de facto political support for the establishment of rural radio stations, and other forms of community radio. This may have a positive impact on the socio-economic and educational development of the host community as well as receiving communities surrounding the stations but there is the air of fear of the stations being used by politicians to promote acrimony limiting the licenses to University and other educational campus in the country.
UNIZIK FM radio stations plays vital role in building vibrant communities, in mobilizing groups to action by informing and empowering citizens, in giving voice to the marginalized groups of society, and in bringing community needs to the attention of local and national governments. The scope of the actual and potentials impact of community radio is wide-ranging, as are the challenges associated with community radio development.
In the view of CIMA-Centre for International Media Assistance report of 2007, the power of community radio to mobilize groups and bring change to societies is well recognized. And also one of the primary reasons of community radio is to educate, inform, entrain region where it is so found. Similarly, AMARC-World Association of Community Broadcasters Report (1998) which stated that although many African countries have opened up the airwaves allowing both independent community stations to exist alongside state owned entitles, there are few laws such as the one which safeguard community broadcasting per sec. furthermore, laws which liberalized the airwaves, make no specific reference to campus community broadcasting. The NBC (Licensing) Regulations of Act of 1992, which liberalized the airwaves in Nigeria made no mention of community broadcasting whatsoever but has allowed the development of campus community broadcasting, such as UNIZIK 94.1FM Awka.
Thus, there is need for raising awareness among communication policy makers on the role and benefit of campus community radio stations to Nigeria socio-cultural, economic, educational and technological development, as well as in the host/ receiving communities, and monitoring to ensure the radio station delivers as it should. This research hopes to evaluate the affairs of the UNIZIKCommunity FM with the hope it will draw the attention of the authorities to its challenges and be useful in soliciting for the necessary assistance the radio station requires to function effectively and efficiently.
The great challenge face by the station is that financial sustainability. As a non-profit station, in line with the principle of community broadcasting the station is restricted by the NBC in the advertisement it takes. However the emphasize here make the station to poised to serve the community. Thus wedding announcements, obituary, events around the community can easily be sources for making money. Therefore the cost is remarkably lower than what you find in commercial stations. This is advantageous to the community, yet is means that compared to the recurrent expenditure of the station, the money may not amount to much. With the erratic power supply of the country, the station’s spending on fuel is quite high.
The Nigeria broadcast media industry which is Africa’s largest and the world’s fourth largest, media industry needs to strive not only in meeting with the competitiveness of the industry in the area of listenership, but strive for excellence in both qualitative and quantitative media content and programming to meet its target audience.(Simmering & Fairbairn, 2007, p.7).While open access does “fulfill the original aesthetic and moral imperative ofcommunity radio’s founding generation”, issues of sustainability, and morespecifically, financial resources have far reaching effects on the stations’ ability andcapability to fulfill their functions (Dunaway, 2002:72). In its co-existence as a “poorcousin”, alongside the other two broadcasting macro-systems, that is, PublicBroadcasting Service and Commercial Broadcasting, community radio seemingly lacksaccess to a fair share of resources for it to achieve these functions (Teer-Tomaselli &De Villiers, 1998:163).
In order to fully support this lofty aspiration, there is the need for the mass media to serve not only as an outlet for just information dissemination, but also for societal development, socialization of norms and values as well as agent of ethic and technological rejuvenation in the face of mounting pressure from popular culture through the media that seems to be eroding communal life and virtues around us.
Insofar as this pressure remains, the prospect of the development of effective campus community radio operations in Nigeria seem to hang in the balance and that is why a study of this nature is necessary in order to unravel motivations that exist in establishing campus radio and also to find out the challenges and prospects of established community radios in Nigeria universities with delimitation on UNIZIK Campus FM.
The main objective of this study is to carry out a comparative analysis of the operation and management of the UNIZIK University campus community radio station with respect to the factors that influenced the establishment of the station as a campus community radio should be, bringing out its challenges and prospects. Thus, the researcher hopes to achieve the following:
The following questions will guide this study:
This study will analyze the identified gap between the aims and objectives of establishing the UNIZIK University Awka community FM and its broadcasting services, while pulling out the problem(s) inherent in the establishment and operation of campus community radio broadcasting as well as the prospect in the establishment of community campus radio FM stations in Nigerian universities with special focus on UNIZIK 94.1 FM,South East of the country.
Thus, this study will explore factors like locations, licenses regime, broadcast freedom, political and socio-cultural inhibitions to propriety of stations, technology and skills development, audience feedback as well as the socialization and participation of the campus and community in the programme and news content development and delivery for the benefit of all and sundry.
The first limitation of this study is that, the research shall only consider the process and procedure enabling the establishment of campus radio or community radio broadcast in Nigerian university, that is UNIZIK FM Awka as well as the challenges limiting its effectiveness and efficient operations and not the general radio broadcast in Nigeria. The second limitation is that is shall only understudy UNIZIKFM stations. More so, the intention to use questionnaire as an instrument of survey would not erase the possibility of bias from the respondents’ responses to the questions in the study.
However, the research will be adept and indepth with data, time and resources committed to the undertaking .
The data and information gathered in the course of this research would help the broadcast industry, media policy makers, the legislature, federal government regulatory agency in charge of broadcasting and university management/authorities to foster a more proactive, competitive and productive ways of developing community radio broadcasting in Nigerian universities. Wherever it will be established, this work would further provide information and additional literature on the nature, challenges and the prospect of campus community radio broadcast in UNIZIK in particular, Africa and the rest of the developing world in general.
Campus: A premise of learning of an academic institution, especially for tertiary education.
Campus Radio: A radio station situated at the premises of an academic institution
Challenges:The limitations and inhibition posed or that threatens the establishment, effectiveness and efficiency of the campus radio broadcast in Nigeria universities.
Community Broadcast:The way of broadcasting within a close frequency or range to a section of the society
NBC: National Broadcasting Commission of Nigeria. The acronym for the sole broadcast regulatory agency in Nigeria.
Prospect:The possibilities and capacity to operate a successful campus radio broadcast in the universities.
Radio station:A broadcast house where mostly audio content and programming are produced and transmitted over broadcast spectrum or frequency.