FOREIGN TELEVISION STATIONS’ REPRESENTATION AND THE PERCEPTION OF NIGERIA’S IMAGE
1.1 Background to the Study
Communication has always been a crucial component of human society. From prehistoric cave paintings to mobile internet in the twenty-first century, it has taken many diverse forms, promoting interactions between other civilizations through trade and travel as well as conflict and colonization. Oral and written language, music, and visual media have all been used in these contacts to transmit and implant ideas, religious beliefs, languages, economic systems, and political systems from one region of the world to another (Schramm, 1988).
In order to meet human needs at the individual, group, and societal levels, communication evolved as civilization progressed from the traditional through the modern to the post-modern eras. The development and acceptance of mass communication have eliminated communication barriers between societies and nations, with the mass media’s influence on human society being felt on a global scale. As a result, media attention has expanded beyond local standards to a worldwide level, leading to media globalization. 2012 (Alao, Alao, & Oguchi).
Cultures and nations have always exchanged ideas across international boundaries. Radio, television, and eventually the internet advanced this process in the 20th century. By the late 1940s, broadcast television became the dominant medium (Schiller, 1969). Using gadgets of sophisticated sources of images and information, television is a home medium through which every household has access to an expanding flow of information and amusement (Miles, 1988). Between the 1980s and 1990s, television gained popularity to the point where the average daily viewing time per household and per person fluctuated between 4.9 and 5.3 hours (Sharot, 1994). It is undeniable that television plays a key role in the processes leading to media saturation in contemporary culture. In all highly industrialized nations, television is a significant mass media, and it is quickly catching up in the developing world.
In a study he conducted on television, Allen (1992) found that because television played so many varied roles in people’s daily lives, it was a topic worth researching what people did with it. He claims that “today, 3.5 billion hours will be spent watching television worldwide” (p. 110). This means that despite countries throughout the world being divided by class, race, gender, religion, culture, political system, level of advancement, and other things reaching a very large number of people, television is possibly the most important source of shared experiences.
Due to the impact of television on individuals, groups, and society as a whole, Nigerian young regularly and critically discuss television programs their regular social encounters as an element.
At work, in the home, in the street, in the bus or on campus, Nigerian youths talk about the characters in soap opera, share latest fashion styles and discuss burning issues raised in both international and local news broadcasts and documentaries. What they discuss during such interactions is determined by the contents of the media to which they are exposed, especially television being an attractive medium that reaches its audience with an audio-visual appeal.
Meanwhile, the advanced societies of the West dominate the global cinema and television sectors of the media industry. This is because big media conglomerates are concentrated in this part of the world, especially the US and Britain who control global media resources. Arguably, no country comes close to United States in popularity on the world’s electronic entertainment stage. In fact, looking at the global communication flow, information has been argued to be disproportionately disseminated from the United States to the rest of the world and critics described this pattern as one-way communication flow (Padovani, 2008). The resultant effect of the domination of the media landscape is unbalanced flow of communication from the West as Western image and ideas are promoted to Africans, while the latter’s image is often portrayed in bad light. Such image portrayal could have implications on the audience’s perception of people, places and events relating to such developing countries and societies.It should be noted that countries of the world run international broadcasting for certain reasons. These include enhancement of national prestige, promotion of national interest, religious, ideological or political indoctrination, fostering of cultural ties, trade in international markets and promotion of access to pay-television broadcasts (Entman, 2004).
Kamalipour (2007) adds the following as part of the motivation for international broadcasting in today’s digital age: E-commerce in terms of trans-border trade, selling of culture and information across borders, entertainment in terms of music, video, drama, personal and group expression of identity, ideology and religion, promoting access to global traditional media organisations. Due to these motivations, governments attach great importance to international broadcasting. The implications of image portrayal through the television medium to people’s perception cannot be over-emphasised and this has generated debates due to the television influence on peoples’ mental picture of the world.
In 1970, a major debate began about this imbalance in global information flow and disadvantaged developing countries called for a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) that would address this imbalance in the communication patterns. Bamidele (2011) observes that:
The New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) is a campaign sponsored by the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to counter media imperialism by creating an information order that gives a more balanced view of developing countries that has generally been by western press coverage(p.72).
The campaign led to the formation of a Commission, headed by a former Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists and Nobel Peace Laurate, Sean MacBride, to look at the issues raised as regards imbalance global information flow. The Commission amongst others was to make recommendations on how to make media representation more equitable. The report of the commission, published in a book titled ‘Many voices, One world’, listed the main international bottlenecks in communication and summarised NWICO.s basic philosophy (Alao,Alao &Oguchi). In spite of the recommendations of MacBride commission, the issue of free flow of global information through the mass media remains perhaps not addressed. Most foreign television stations’ programmes, news and information about the developing nations, including Nigeria seem to be about wars, famine, drought, corruption and poverty to mention a few.
In Nigeria, several efforts to correct the wrong notions about the country by the Western media were demonstrated, for instance, Federal government under General Ibrahim Babangida leadership promulgated Decree No 15 in 1991 which established the Nigeria’s external media , Voice Of Nigeria (VON). Since its inception, the organization reflected the country originality so that distortions in the nation’s image held by the external world can be corrected. In 2004, Obasanjo administration embarked on New Nigeria Image Project (NNIP), the motive was to launder Nigeria image beyond the country shore against misconstrued information disseminated about the country by the foreign media. The campaign did so much to correct foreign lands bad impressions about Nigeria. In addition, in 2009, the late Umaru Yar’Adua’s regime launched another image laundering project tagged Re-branding Nigeria Project(RNP) which the then Minister Of Information, late Professor Dora Akuiyili supervised. The project amongst others tirelessly fought the deliberate misconceptions emanating from the foreign media.Furthermore, the Buhari administration’s Change Policy is as well crafted to re-orientate Nigerians against the country’s brand eroders such as corruption, elections fraudulence, insurgency, armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, hooliganism, child trafficking, cyber-crime, militancy, exam malpractices, cultism and a host of others. The government contented that in as much that the country can rectify the aforementioned, the country’s negative image shall be reduced if not totally obliterated.
Foreign television stations often used both economic power and the control of technology as a conduit pipe for legitimising their position and policies. As the mass media, especially television, gained more advantage over other medium of communication (Shaw, 1996), concerns became increased about the concentration of media power and its impacts on the developing nations’ images. It is argued that through their control of major international information channels, the foreign television stations give exploitative and distorted views of Nigeria to the rest of the world. Scholars further contend that under the guise of the free flow of information, some governments and transnational television stations have tried to undermine internal stability in developing nations including Nigeria, violating their rights to sovereignty and national development (Masmondi, 1979). Foreign television stations perpetuated and strengthened inequality in development with negative effects on the Nigeria’s image, polity and economy. According to Masmondi (1979),
There existed a flagrant qualitative imbalanced between North and South created by the volume of news and information emanating from the developed world and intended for developing countries and the volume of the flow in the opposite direction. News which they filtered, cut and distorted, the transnational media impose their way of seeing the world upon the developing countries (p. 72).
Debates on whether foreign television stations are responsible for social, political, economic, and cultural perception of their viewers in Nigeria or facilitate ill-actions from Nigerian youths are established by media scholars such as Akintayo and Adegoke (2015) who reported that:
Television shows reflect societal fads, interests, and trends as well as values, conventions, and customs. Western television shows frequently depict Western culture in their programming. For instance, fashion TV and styles are entertainment channels that cover fashion and lifestyle in Western nations. These media outlets increase young people’s awareness of current fashions, and they seem to feel pressure to try to stay up with the norms (p. 65).
As a result, the actions and behavior of Nigerian youths in regards to living in the nation, working with the government to achieve development goals, and even taking part in cultural and political processes may be a reflection of how the nation is portrayed on foreign television stations, which use their metal images of the nation as a source of information the country are shape. There is no doubt that Nigerian youths’ actions, behaviours and orientations are prone to foreign television stations representation of the country, influenced by their perception of Nigeria’s image as shaped by the stations’ programmes. For Nigerian youngsters who watch Western television channels, foreign television programs have essentially evolved into classrooms for cultural instruction. Foreign television stations are undoubtedly agents of cultural promotion, but poor countries like Nigeria are the ones who are affected, and the audience that is arguably most impacted is the youth. This study explores the functions of international television broadcasting in moulding adolescents’ perceptions of Nigeria through the stations’ representation of the country’s image in light of the potential for television to influence youngsters’ mental pictures about the globe through its program contents.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Since the 1970s, disputes between industrialized and developing countries, including Nigeria, have been brought on by the disproportionate amount of news that is gathered and disseminated by foreign television stations and other media organizations. Four sectors that have been particularly important to developing countries were mentioned by Giffard (1982). First, foreign television stations and news agencies provide more than 75% of the non-local news content in the media of developing countries, forcing the former to view themselves and nearly all issues through Western spectacles. Second, the Western information monopoly led to a significant imbalance in the flow of news, with news primarily traveling from developed to poor countries.
Thirdly, by holding a privileged position as a provider of news, information, and cultural products to the developing countries, the West continues to uphold cultural imperialism. The fourth cause for concern is that the way that emerging nations are covered by the international media, particularly Nigeria as the most populous black country, is frequently characterized by stereotypical depictions of those nations’ internal affairs.
Due to these factors, the Western media continues to favor developed nations at the expense of the uneven flow of information around the world. The multiple reasons for maintaining this Western-African difference support McPhail’s (2006) claim that the West is the victim of electronic colonialism.
He describes electronic colonialism as the dependent relationship of poorer countries on the advanced nations, institutionalised by concentration of communication hardware, software and personnel in the latter. In numerous domains of life, such as culture, economy, science and technology, environment, health, and politics, the West and Africa frame issues differently, favoring the West. This is the outcome of the unevenness in the flow of global information. The breadth and direction of how Nigerian youths see the portrayal of their country in the Western media has drawn inquiry (Akintayo & Adegoke, 2015). The flow of news from foreign television stations to Nigeria has significant influence on the Nigerian society. So, the purpose of this study was to find out how young people in Nigeria view the country as it is portrayed on foreign media.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The primary goal of this study is to ascertain how Nigerian youths view their nation in light of how it is portrayed on foreign media. The precise goals are to:
1. find out what Nigerian youth think about the news articles that are broadcast about Nigeria by international television channels;
2. Look into how the programming on foreign television channels affects how young people in Nigeria perceive their society;
3. determine the prevailing tone of foreign television stations’ programming about how young people in Nigeria see the Nigerian society.
4. ascertain the effects of a group of young people’s opinions on how foreign television stations portray Nigerian society.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research issues served as the study’s guiding principles:
1. How do young people in Nigeria rate the quality of news reports about Nigeria that are broadcast on international television?
2. Do the programs on foreign television channels have an impact on how young people in Nigeria perceive their society?
3. How can the substance of foreign television stations’ programs about how Nigerian society is portrayed be explained in terms of how young Nigerians see it?
4. How much do the perceptions of a group of young people affect how foreign television stations portray Nigerian society?
The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
H0: There is no significance relationship between Nigerian youths’ perception of the country’s image and the nature of news stories disseminated by foreign television stations about the Nigerian society.
Ho: There is no significance relationship between Nigerian youths’ perception of the country’s image and the predominant tone of foreign television stations’ programme contents on the Nigerian society.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study offered empirical information on how Nigerian adolescents perceived the portrayal of their nation on international television programs. Several stakeholders would benefit from the study in many different ways. It might provide further insight into the foreign media hegemony in the developing world, which discussions have revealed has caused an imbalanced information flow in favor of the West. So, the study provides a platform to contribute to the discussion on the issue being sparked by developing nations like Nigeria.
In addition to adding to the body of knowledge on the contentious foreign media dominance, this study may also interest other mass communication academics who are researching the impact of foreign television stations on other nations, particularly those in the third world.
The study may also be a helpful resource for parents and guardians who are worried about the moral integrity of Nigerian young as a means of promoting national development. The study also made Nigerian broadcast regulatory officials aware of the negative consequences of an unrestricted importation of foreign material. As a result, the study may make Nigerian society and security personnel aware of the truth about television broadcasting as a factor in the actions and behaviors of young people.
The Nigerian broadcasting code may also need to be reviewed, specifically the requirements for the minimum percentage of local to international program content of 70% to 30%. This study might persuade all interested parties to carry out the code’s specified enforcement. Finally, the study will inform the public more about the programs on foreign television channels and the effects they have on the perception of Nigerian society as a whole.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The purpose of this study is to analyze how Nigerian youths perceive the image of their nation as it is presented in the program content of international television stations. Undergraduate students attending Nigerian colleges in the Southwest of the nation received particular attention. Oyo State, Ogun State, and Osun State are the three states out of the six in the region that were chosen for this study based on geography. In order to do this, three universities from each of the three states were chosen as targets: University of Ibadan (representing Oyo state), Adeleke University, Ede, and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (representing Ogun state) (representingOsunstate). Adjezzera, France 24, Euro News, New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV), Geo News(GN), MSNBC, Deutsche Welle Television, The Voice Of America (VOA), Reuters News World International, Sky News, and Associated Press Television News (APTN) with selected program were also purposefully chosen for the study because they are more popular with reporting Nigerian internal issues.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
1. Perception: In this study, the term “perception” is used to describe the views and opinions of Nigerian youths about the country’s image as determined by the meaning, understanding, or interpretation they derive from watching news and programs on foreign television stations. Such perceptions may be favorable — in support of the country — unfavorable — against the country — or indifferent — neutral — or showing no concern about the country.
2. Youths: In this study, the term “youths” refers to both male and female university freshmen who have matriculated to pursue any first-degree program full-time at Federal, State, and Private universities in Southwest Nigeria.
3. Representation: In the context of this study, representation means the way the foreign media report issues and events about Nigeria in news or portray the country in their programme contents, which may include as a growing economy or democracy when portrayed in good light; or as a country of corrupt, poor or backward people when portrayed in bad light.
4. Image: This refers to the manner in which the Nigerian society is projected or portrayed by the foreign television stations through their news and programme contents and such image portrayal could be positive for instance, when news is reported about an economic, a political or technological progress made by the country; or negative when the image is portrayed as that of a nation of corrupt, poor and backward people.
5. Foreign television: In this context, these are television stations that are based in Europe and America and engage in international transmission of programmes. They are stations whose funding, ownership and operations are by Western interests of Europe and America.
6. Federal Universities: These are institutions of higher learning offering first degree courses in different disciplines under the regulatory supervision of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), which are owned and funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
7. State universities: In Nigeria, these are the institutions of higher learning that are owned and funded by the States and provide first-degree programs in a variety of fields under the regulatory oversight of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC).
8. Private universities: These are institutions of higher education that offer first-degree programs in a variety of areas and are governed by the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC). They may be owned and supported by any person or business.
9.Undergraduates: This category includes male and female students between the ages of 16 and 30 who are Nigerian citizens by birth and residence and who have been accepted to pursue full-time bachelor’s degree programs at any of the chosen institutions located in Southwest Nigeria.