ASSESSMENT OF PRIVATE MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND FREEDOM OF THE PRESS ON COMFORT FM UYO
1.1Background of the Study
In many society especially in the third world countries under which Nigeria is categorized newspaper and other broadcasting media which hitherto operates in different levels with the first and second levels which is public and private or commercial only, the privates, has found it difficult to exist because its growth is linked to the function of democratization or the liberation of the oppressed people. An issue many governments in developing countries are very reluctant to allow the government takes active interest in the establishment and control of the media. The facts remains that since it is the government that owns and control the media, it therefore means that the media content is going to be controlled by the government and were private media are allowed to operate; there are forms of legal controls and decrees all for the sole aim of curtailing media freedom.
MCquail (2005) while writing on the influence of ownership on mass media content said, there is no doubt the owners in market based media have the ultimate power over content and can ask for what they want to be included or left ; this is against the ethics of journalism. The influence of media ownership is felt more by government owned media organizations especially in Nigeria.
Freedom of the press is a cornerstone to judge maturity of democracy in many societies. Respect for freedom of expression and the right of public to access and receive information result to transparency and accountability of government.
Government have been using license and censorship to control the power of mass media ( including private owned media) and curtail its immense contribution and defense of fundamental human right.
Notris (2006) media has three essential roles to play in democratization process and good governance such roles are to be a watchdog over the powerful for political debates and agenda setting.
However, the private media, which guaranteeing relative diversity, is still subject to the other types of regulations and pressures that affect its contents thus these changes in media ownership have created both more and less opportunity for political and social discourse and action. Regulation restricts owners from holding more than one third of the shares in media enterprise and countries with greater state. Ownership of media have a less-free press, fewer political rights for citizens, inferior governance and less develop capital markets.
Thus, the nation is that independence of press from the state (government) is an essential factor in the democratic environment in mediating between private democratic elite in public sphere.
It is against this background that the study is primarily carried out to assess the private media ownership and freedom of the press with specific focus on Comfort Fm, Uyo.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There are claims and counter claims that the Nigerian press is very free. However, it is widely observed that the Nigerian press is in chains. The media are more affected by the laws and other administrative policies which form barriers to press freedom. Even if these problems are surmounted by the freedom of information ACT 2011. The ownership control of the media, forms a serious control to what is gathered and disseminated.
In view of the above problems, this research is carried out to determine whether private media operators are free to gather and disseminate information. The question to ask is, does comfort fm freely gather and disseminate information? This is what this study seeks to find out.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine the editorial policies of Comfort Fm, Uyo.
- To know whether the journalist in Comfort Fm have freedom to gather and report information freely
- To know whether Comfort Fm has limitations in reporting government activities
- To examine the ownership influence in gathering and dissemination of information.
1.4 Research questions
- To what extents do the editorial; policies related with the management of Comfort Fm?
- Does the journalist in Comfort Fm have freedom to gather and report information freely?