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deregulation of the broadcast media in 1992 democratised the media space and
led to the establishment of the  National
Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate the Broadcast sector. NBC is the only
body empowered to process and recommend broadcast licence for the President’s
approval, through the Minister of Information. The lopsided approval of
broadcast licence to political elite who are members of the ruling party has
fuelled criticism among public analysts that broadcast media licence is being
used for political patronage. This study examined the political interference
and how the regulatory role of the NBC, affects the broadcasting industry in Nigeria.

research design is a survey. The population was 1,558 broadcasters in the
public and private broadcast media organisations as well as NBC officials in
Lagos Nigeria. Using the criterion of professional experience of at least 15
years practice, purposive sampling was adopted in selecting senior Journalists
in 8 public and private media organisations and 7 senior officials of the NBC.
Consequently, 55 Key informants were interviewed from 8 public, private
broadcast media organisations and NBC. The instrument was an interview guide.
The Interviews from respondents were transcribed and sent via emails to ensure
that responses were true reflections of their views as validity. The data were
transcribed, content-analysed and thematically grouped based on research

Findings from respondents revealed that the constitution of Nigeria and the NBC Act give room for political interference in the operations of the NBC. The constitution and the Act cover the powers of the President to grant broadcast licence while the Minister of Information controls the broadcasting regulatory agency . The study also reveals that causes of political interference are the power of the President to appoint the Director General for NBC , and the Minister of Information controls the operations of NBC as a parastaltal. The value addition of broadcast media as instrument for social, economic and political mobilisation attracted the interest of politicians to apply for broadcast licence. The study equally revealed that the effects of political interference were noticed in poor quality broadcasting, inadequate professionalism and lack of independence of the regulator.

The study
concluded that effectiveness of the regulatory role of the NBC was inhibited by
the provisions of the Constitution that enabled political interference. The
study recommended the review of the Constitution, NBC Act, Broadcasting Code
and the establishment of an Independent Media Commission to be managed by media

Keywords: Political interference, NBC, Broadcast licence, Broadcast media, Media stakeholders, Independent Media Commission



1.1 Background to the Study  

 Politics and media are interwoven and critical to sustainable democracy because both involve the people, process of communication, utilization of resources and decision making. Kolade and Yankah, (1997), submitted that “politics and broadcast media are mutually beneficial because people must communicate with one another and the sovereign power of the people is not negotiable within the context of party politics and the broadcast media”. (p. 7). Omu and Oboh (2008) also noted that broadcast media play significant role in the conduct of politics in any country, (p. 10), Hence, Ogor (2002) posited that in a democratic society broadcasting is the “Oxygen of Democracy” (p. 74). It breathes life into political activities, makes government accountable to the people and an avenue for feedback on government policies, programmes and initiatives. Against this background,  Ogor (2002) stated “it is the responsibility of the broadcast media to help increase the level of general awareness and mobilisation of the populace and even  as an active participant in the shaping of democratic values through education and public enlightenment”, (p.86).

This postulation therefore set the stage for
the  commencement of broadcasting in Nigeria in 1933 through  the 
“Redifussion Service” on Glover Street, Lagos to broadcast the policy of
the then Governor General of Nigeria, Sir Macpherson. The Redifussion service,
an offshore radio service from Britain could be described as a product of
politics, self interests and assertiveness by the British colonial power to
broadcast news from Britain to its colony – Nigeria. The colonial power
controls the operations of the Redifussion Service in terms of contents and
programmes, modelled after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), operated
as a state monopoly. The control of
the Redifussion service was the first attempt at broadcast media regulation by government.
To accentuate the colonial government 
monopoly on the broadcast media, in 1956, the colonial  government enacted an Act
of Parliament (Ordinance No 39) enabling the conversion of Redifussion service
from the BBC control apparatus to Nigerian Broadcasting Service, (NBS). Its
role then was to regulate the operations of radio station in terms of ethical
standard of fairness, objectivity and balance of news and programmes, NBC
(2002) noted.

By 1957, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, (NBC), came into existence to replace NBS, as the broadcasting regulator. “In October 1959, the famous Western Nigerian Television/Broadcasting Service, (WNTV/WNBS) funded by the Western regional government under late the Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group was established. According Ejiofor,(2002), “WNTV/WNBS” was founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo  to have a voice and a right of reply to the central government broadcasting station- “the Redifussion Service”. The Redifussion Service had turned down the request of the then late Premier of Western Region to reply to an allegation against him by the Colonial government. In 1960, Eastern Region Government set up its own television service, Eastern Nigerian Television Service,(ENTS). This was followed by Radio Television Kaduna established by the former Northern Nigerian Government, an arm of the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria, (BCNN), in March, 1962. In the same year, the Federal government established the Nigerian Television Service, (NTS) in Lagos. The (NTS) later changed its name to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation /Television, (NBC/TV). All the regional broadcast stations in Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu were merged under the NBC/TV. The radio arm came under the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) through military directive. Later in the same year, General Olusegun Obasanjo led federal military administration took over these television stations in 1978 and changed the name to the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA).  The main media regulatory agency in the early broadcast years was Posts and Telecommunications which later changed to the Ministry of Information and Culture till now.


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