1.1 Background of the study
The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria is the Pioneer Broadcast Organization in Nigeria with a rich culture of excellence. Available records reveal that Radio Broadcasting was introduced into Nigeria in 1933 by the then colonial Government. It relayed the overseas service of the British Broadcasting Corporation through wired system with loudspeakers at the listening end. The service was called Radio Diffusion System, RDS. From the RDS emerged the Nigerian Broadcasting Services, NBS in April 1980. Prior to the NBS, the colonial Government had commissioned the Nigerian Broadcasting survey, undertaken by Messrs Byron and Turner which recommended the establishment of stations in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan and Kano. Mr.
T. W. Chalmers, a Briton and controller of the BBC Light Entertainment Programme was the first Director-General of the NBS.
Radio ownership and control has since colonial times been subjected more to political exigencies than economic forces. Successive governments have, in the laws they enact and enforce, made it abundantly clear that the press was at the mercy of politics, and that the political tune to which a paper dances was enough to ensure its survival or death Abramsky, (2005). The laws and their implementation have seldom encouraged private investment in the media nor given radio proprietors reason to believe that it is feasible to run it as a business by attracting advertisement revenue with good circulation figures.
The government shows that it is more interested in containing the media politically than in providing its proprietors and practitioners the enabling economic environment they need for professional excellence and financial independence. This has brought about the underdevelopment of the press by imposing on it a series of constraints. No one who knows what a radio looks like (in content and form) take seriously what is passed on news Akpan, (2008), of course, some of the constraints to a vibrant, professional and financially viable radio are obviously internal to the press itself. However, even these so-called internal constraints can be explained by the overt political control and administrative determination to stifle all forms of creative and liberating difference from the status quo that a free press of any kind might seek to encourage Beder, (2002). This necessarily means privileging ignorance over knowledge, and encouraging media practitioners who know little or care little about professionalism.
Thus, the first and main threat to free-flow of information is still largely from wielders of political power, efforts at economic liberalization notwithstanding (Konings, 2006). Control by big business or financial magnates is perhaps a future danger, as overt political interference has made it too risky for the business world to contemplate any meaningful partnership with or investment in the press, the critical private press in particular. During the monolithic era, the sole political pace-setter was the government. Today, there is the added danger of power elites other than the governing, manipulating the press in similar ways if not worse.
Often, the journalists I have interviewed tend to think, quite mistakenly, that the only real threat to their freedom and independence comes from proprietors. This is quite understandable, given that the government is directly responsible for repressive laws and their day to day application, and given that the radio owners have consistently worked to keep the press divided through sponsoring the creation of private papers or thwarting attempts to create strong unions of media practitioners (Guiffo, 2003; Nyamnjoh, 2006; Nyamnjoh et al., 2006). This notwithstanding, it is important for journalists to bear in mind that threats to their independence could also come from big business, such as experienced from government. They ought also to note that an equally dangerous threat could arise from unwittingly playing into the hands of the power elite in the opposition, as even they would agree has happened during democratic process. Among the internal constraints to a free press (constraints induced, of course, by governments and radio owners monolithic inclinations and severe laws over the years), is the inadequacy of professionalism and unity among journalists.
The splits, squabbles and instability we have witnessed among radio proprietors and journalists over the past eight years of democratic struggle, mean that the press has been preoccupied more with internal wrangles of its own, than with a conscious, concerted effort as an institution, to pool their resources together and fight for better laws and for persecuted journalists, as well as better inform their readership or viewership Bleifuss, 2005. If journalists are more united and better organized, they could resolve most of the problems that currently plague them and their profession, even if such professional independence.