BROADCAST MEDIA COVERAGE OF RURAL EVENTS (A STUDY OF AKBC – TV CHANNEL 45, UYO)
1.1 Background of the Study
The media have a role to play in rural information dissemination. Some scholars believe the rural areas should be the focus of media attention. Unfortunately, this is not the case; hardly do the media give sufficient attention to issues about the rural areas. The rural areas are unattractive to the media because, media personnel believe, they are devoid of the movers and shakers of policies and programmes.
The political elites who are the focus of media attention require sustain focus on the rural areas to know rural conditions. The rural areas are place where majority of Nigerians live and the AKBC-TV as a government outfit ought to focus attention and search light on these areas. The rural areas should attract more attention of AKBC-TV if we are to meet the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGS) in the 21st century. In the same vein, Opubor, (1985:143) observed that in a country of:
The size of Nigeria, it is impossible to mobilize the entire population through centralized directive, “there can be no progress unless beneficial changes occurs at the local lever”.
Communication and information must be decentralized. We need village level communicators recruited from among the men and women in rural areas; he argues. The Scottish Broadcasting Council is of the view that the needs of the people living in remote areas are very much greater than those of multiple facilities of towns and cities. Furthermore, he says the provision of adequate viewing and listening for communication should be given high priority.
Is television coverage of rural affairs as portrayed by the above views correct? Have these mass communication experts seen only one-side of the coin? The desire to confirm the contention is the essence of this study. In the same vein, this study has chosen the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation Television Service Channel 45 Uyo in terms of coverage of rural event in Akwa Ibom State. The period of coverage is from January to June, 2014. Distribution of news within Nigeria takes after the general distribution of news of the world except that it operates at the national level.
According to MacBride et al (1981:36) news report about the world seem to be lopsided issue. This assertion is very true of the situation in Nigeria, as substantiated contribution to Television Quarterly in which he says less is reported about the rural areas than the urban centers in Nigerian press.
Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) came into existence by Akwa Ibom State Government Edict No. 4, of 1988. It was established to: address the information needs of the young state created just a year before in order to mobilize its citizens towards the development of the state. The AKBC is an off-shoot of the Cross River Television Authority (CRTY) established in 1983 which offered television services through a one kilowatt transmitter to a limited audience mainly of Uyo residents. There was also a booster of the Cross River Radio at Abak which operated on a ten kilowatt transmitter.
Thus, with the enactment of Edict no. 54, of 1988, these two studios became the nucleus of the AKBC. Contract for the expansion of the CRTV was signed in December 1984. The expansion project finally took off with a 25 kilowatt transmitter on 12th August, 1989. Contract for the construction of a frequency modulation station was also signed and both Radio Akwa Ibom FM stereo and the AKBC Television are widely received in the state and beyond.
The government embarked upon modern and bigger Television and Radio Stations. This culminated in the installation of new facilities for Radio and Television at Ntak Inyang in Itu Local Government Area but within the Uyo Capital Territory. The television station inherited channel 45 earlier allocates to the CRTV and now had the call sign of AKBC 45. The station was commissioned by then President Ibrahim Babangida when he visited Akwa Ibom State in 1991.
The AKBC has two arms, the Radio and the Television services each under a director operating differently but with the coordination of the central administration where the General Manager oversees the entire Corporation. The various heads of departments in the two arms constitute the Joint Management Committee, while policy formulation is the responsibility of the Board of Directors which unfortunately has not be constituted thereby making the supervisory Ministry of Information and Culture to handle such functions.
The AKBC presently relies on government subvention and other revenue realized from its commercialization drive. The television arm of the Corporation has six departments: Administration, Accounts, Programmes, news and Current Affairs, Marketing and Engineering in which the Directors of the Radio and Television services are the heads of each management committee as the case may be.
The television runs twenty hours daily that is from 5.45am till 1.30am and joins NTA Nationwide News at Four O’clock and nine O’clock each day. Programmes broadcast include News, Educational, Sports, Children, and current Affairs etc.
The News and Current Affairs Department is in charge of producing the day’s news bulletin and other current affairs programmes. The major news bulletin which is called NEWS FILE is broadcast at eight O’clock in the night and 11.30 am; AKBC AM news is also broadcast. Although there are minor news bulletins tagged news summary at news at close down respectively. The main news bulletins are expected to carry about eighty percent local news that is news about the state and ten percent each for national and international issues. Up till January 2007, there used to be seven bulletins a week, running from Mondays through Sundays. This means that the station was expected to broadcast a total of one hundred and eighty one news bulletins for the period of the study.