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PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCES OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP PATTERNS ON MEDIA FREEDOM AND PROFESSIONALISM IN NIGERIA

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCES OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP PATTERNS ON MEDIA FREEDOM AND PROFESSIONALISM IN NIGERIA

Abstract

This paper examines the patterns of media ownership in Nigeria. It analyzes the impacts of ownership patterns on media freedom and professionalism. It argues that the media ownership climate in Nigeria is very cloudy, and not conducive for optimum operations, especially for private media. Government uses its regulatory agencies to frustrate media freedom. The scenario is not a lot different from centralized control. Government is urged to encourage free enterprise and allow a level playing field for private and public media firms.

INTRODUCTION

Mass media are a creation of technology. They have moved on for ages spurred by technology. New media technology herald each age in human history ever since man perfected the art of writing. As creations of technology, mass media have become an integral as well as an indispensable aspect of human society. A society without the mass media is unthinkable. The world owes the mass media great gratitude for making social, worldwide interactions possible. The place of the mass media in modern mass society is easily clear.
Interestingly, most societies have spent huge amount of time and resources to work out effective system for using the mass media. Some societies have, however, left the media at the whims of rulers as they come and go. The mass media will remain a useless lot unless there is an effective system to harness and use them as instruments of social communication.
The concern therefore is examining and analyzing patterns of media ownership in Nigeria in a bid to draw useful conclusions. This will help establish a correlation among media ownership, media freedom and professionalism.

Newspapers

Media ownership in Nigeria started in private hands ever before government got interested in mass media. Reverend Henry Townsend, an Anglican missionary, established the first newspaper in Nigeria, Iwe Irohin in 1859. Other newspapers followed suit to tap the gains of the growing interest in reading and western education. Additionally, the urge for self government spurred Nigerians to organize mass movements to challenge colonial repression. Mass media appeared as a second tool used to challenge colonialism. In British colonies of the East, West and South Africa, the promise of eventual independence led the people to organize nationalist movements. The growth of these movements led directly to the birth of small newspapers.
Therefore, before any media ownership laws were enacted, colonialism and the struggle for self governance triggered private ownership of the mass media. It is believed that colonialism, Christianity and nationalism worked together in shaping the nature of the media in Nigeria. Early press owners were Christian missionaries.

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCES OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP PATTERNS ON MEDIA FREEDOM AND PROFESSIONALISM IN NIGERIA

The British government also went into publishing, though it did not float a full-fledge newspaper. “Part of their communication structure in Nigeria was in form of colonial information handouts. In Southern Nigeria, the colonial administration effectively used its periodical, the Nigerian Gazette, which was established in Lagos immediately the government took shape” as from 1900 during which such publication became popular (Braimoh 1990, p.135). The Gazette was published in bond volumes like weekly or monthly magazines. It was therefore not a conventional publication.
While the British government wanted to spread information about its administration with its publication, mercantilist and nationalistic motives propelled the private press. The pungency of the early private press thus earned it the haughty eyes of government. The latter quickly responded with gagging laws. The Newspaper Ordinance of 1903 and the Seditious Offences Ordinance of 1909 were among such early laws.
To date, the driving force of private press remains opposition to government misrule, ensuring the accountability and responsibility of government to the people. As such, countless laws of sorts have been churned out to terrify the press in Nigeria, in addition to innumerable cases of assault on pressmen and press freedom.
The quest for independence, additionally, led many nationalists like Herbert Macaulay, Ernest Ikoli, Nnamdi Azikiwe, to name a few into establishing papers. Macaulay formed the first party paper, the Lagos Daily News in 1925 to champion the cause of his party, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP).
This trend sparked off an era of party papers – the Daily News, 1925; Daily Service, 1933; and the West African Pilot, 1937, were effective party organs. Party papers continued to exist up to the post independence era. After independence, three regions – North, West and East– had ethnic-based political parties and the private press aligned with the trend. The Pilot and the Zik’s chain of papers, the Nigerian Tribune and the Nigerian Citizen became the mouthpieces of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)–East; the Action Group– West; and the Northern Peoples Congress – North respectively. And with the creation of 12 states in 1967, each state established its own newspaper. This practice continued as state creation continued.
The newspaper industry in Nigeria has, no doubt, gone through trying times and has become very strong and audacious and has built itself a great name. The reason is that newspapers fought hard to liberate society from the shackles of oppressive leaders. It is believed that newspapers constitute the only potent opposition to government in power in Nigeria.
However, the influence of government press with government support and monopoly of government information is still noticeable. In 1975, government acquired 60% of the Daily Times shares, making the paper reflect the spirit of government in its content. Daily Times, formerly a very powerful and influential paper, started to dance to the tune of government.
Government extends its influence over some media (especially government media), as well as over the federal ministries and state ministries of information. The audience often alleges that these media organizations and ministries have become government tools of propaganda, and official misinformation and deceit.

Broadcasting

Broadcasting demands a more complex system as well as daunting financial involvements. The airways were once seen as public property that should be managed by government. Perhaps, that is why broadcasting in Nigeria started in the hands of government.
As from 1932 when broadcasting

 

PROJECT TOPIC- INFLUENCES OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP PATTERNS ON MEDIA FREEDOM AND PROFESSIONALISM IN NIGERIA

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