BROADCAST MEDIA COVERAGE OF RURAL EVENTS (A STUDY OF AKBC- TV CHANNEL 45, UYO)
THE PROBLEMS AND ITS SETTING
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.
1.2 Background of the Study
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 5.45 am till 1.30 am 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.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
There are indications that the urban-based media tend generally to give more attention to issues in the urban areas, neglecting the majority who live in our rural areas. This deliberate neglect has helped to shut out the rural, conditions from the attention of policy makers and development planners. The AKBC TV Uyo as a government station is expected to be different. However, it appears that AKBC is assumed not to give sufficient coverage to the rural areas of the state. Is this assumption true? What is the extent of coverage of the rural areas by AKBC-TV, Uyo?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
- To ascertain the extent of coverage of rural events by AKBC-TV, Uyo.
- To ascertain the extent of prominence given by AKBC-TV, Uyo to rural events.
- To find out the types of rural issues usually covered by AKBC-TV, Uyo.
- To compare the extent of urban and rural events by AKBC-TV, Uyo.
1.5 Research Questions
- What is the extent of coverage of rural events by AKBC-TV, Uyo?
- What is the level of prominence given to rural events by AKBC-TV, Uyo?
- What types of rural events are covered by AKBC-TV, Uyo?
- Does AKBC-TV, Uyo cover more urban events than rural ones?
1.6 Justification for the Study
Based on the assumptions that some areas especially the urban areas are over reported in the news than the rural areas, the justifications for this study is that its findings will help us to know whether the AKBC Television has a lopsided nature of news coverage.
It is believed that the result of this study will provide ready guiding material for not only the scholars, the government and the people living: in the rural communities in charting their information course with the hindsight of community mobilization and development. It will also help AKBC television to know its position in the coverage of the rural areas in akwa Ibom State.
This study deals with coverage of rural events in Akwa Ibom State by the AKBC Television. It will therefore be limited to news bulletins of the AKBC Television, which will span a period of six months from January to June, 2014. Consequently, the study will be limited to a total of 181 bulletins. It will however not attempt to explain the effects of a news items on any particular issues.
1.8 Definition of terms
The following terms are considered for definition as used in this work.
Coverage: The overall attention given to the rural reporting by AKBC Television news.
News: Is an account of event reported to the public.
Prominence: Important subject of news story which are subject to public curiosity.
Rural: Is synonymous term described as backwardness and darkness when it is used in the developing nation? It is a place where people live in information void.