The emerging trend in Nigeria’s broadcast industry after the doors were thrown open for private participation has been a success story. The Nigerian nation, contrary to initial government’s apprehensions, has not collapsed. There has not been any case of the use of the private stations to foment trouble nor subvert the country.
Rather, what Nigerians seemed to have witnessed is the opportunity to choose. Competition in broadcast programming brought about by private stations has created some vitality and vibrancy in the broadcast sector such that even many government owned stations that were almost sinking in boring and monotonous monologues of what the government said and so on have been forced to abandon their slumber.
It has been a tremendous advantage for the Nigerian airways for the deregulation of its airways. The government’s fears became unfounded with the exemplary courage of General Ibrahim Babaginda (administration) who on August 24, 1992, threw open the gates to allow private individuals and groups the opportunity to own, control and operate broadcast stations.
However, for a long time, government held on to its exclusive monopoly of the broadcast media because it felt it could not trust the professional discretion of private individuals to protect public interests or safeguard the nation’s security. It would be recalled that successive military “adventurists” found it a convenient strategy to execute their coups on the airwaves of the nation’s broadcast media. The government probably felt the nation was not ripe for private ownership of broadcast stations. Meanwhile, decades later the former governments realized they have been wrong because the deregulation expanded the industry and improved the efficiency and effectiveness of broadcast stations in the country.
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Deregulation in Nigeria has not only helped the country but boost the freedom of expression and also promote the quality of broadcasting in Nigeria. Furthermore, they have also stimulated social and economic growth and development in the country. In fact, if not for anything, it has provided more employment opportunities for Nigerians and a medium for advertisers and advertising practitioners.
With the coming of private television stations, the face of television broadcast in Nigeria has been changed permanently for good. For one, it has raised the stake in the industry, as stations, both public and private, now competition is getting keener by the day. Today, viewers have more stations to choose from, unlike in the past when NTA and state stations held sway. This has translated to more programmes.
One of the fallouts of broadcast deregulation is the upsurge in the thriving activities of independent producers. Because of the options and latitude provided by a deregulated broadcast market, independent producers, most of who had been frustrated out of civil service media stations have new opportunities to showcase their talents.
Besides, the employment market in the broadcast sector, in the wake of deregulation, offered better prospects as employers lured the few available talents with better remunerations. Poaching soon became the order of the day as most government stations that failed to appreciate the worth of their on-air talents and other professionals in the news, programmes, and engineering directorates lost them to the upcoming outfits.
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In addition to the benefit of deregulation in Nigeria, the ownership of broadcast media stations by individuals craves way for true democracy. It is fact that a government owned broadcast station would not want to broadcast anything that would jeopardize or tarnish the image of the government. Hence, workers in such media house would find it difficult to broadcast unscrupulous stories of the government because of the fear of losing his job. However, the presence of private media houses gives room for easy publication of government’s unscrupulous stories. The purpose of mass communication as a watch-dog for the masses becomes effective in this aspect because a case study of Nigeria reveals that a private media house will not hesitate to broadcast any news story that would or not tarnish the image of the government. This they would do more than a government owned station.
Furthermore, it is conspicuous that deregulating the airways as been one of the strategic decisions the Nigerian government has taken. Another advantage of the deregulation of the airways is the act of broadcast on-line. The private media houses in Nigeria facilitate the growth and increase of web-casting. In Nigeria today, almost all private media houses have their programmes broadcast on-line through web-casting.
All these advantages of deregulation of the airways in Nigeria have contributed immensely in improving the economy of the country. It has improved the economy because so many individuals have set up so many media houses which have also increased the numbers of the employed especially those who had gone to school to study in the specified field of mass communication and journalism. Moreover, as the standard of the industry improves, it makes the industry to be capable of competing with other countries’ industries.
Also, another advantage which a broadcast station has is the capability of educating its listeners. Deregulation in Nigeria which gives room for the rush in of more media houses make viewers have choices of been educated. It increases the ability of media houses to make its audience educated and conscious of where they live in. Advertisement on broadcast stations also create awareness to the masses, so many broadcast stations even when individuals owned stations have dominated the airways advertise lots of products and services. Most importantly, it serves as a medium where manufacturers or entrepreneurs reveal their products or services to the people. Also, it serves as a medium the audience gets to know about new products and new development.
Finally, based on the emphasis of the relevance and necessities of the deregulation of the Nigerian airways, it is a fact that the deregulation of the airways was necessary and has benefited the country tremendously. There is also a bright prospect ahead of the industry even as these individuals who keep on thronging into the industry keep on imbibing fresh and well innovating ideas which would improve it to its peak of standard. So therefore, indeed the sky is a stepping stone for the industry.
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