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COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF GLOBE FM (98.5) AND BAUCHI RADIO CORPORATION’S (BRC) POLITICAL PROGRAMMES DURING THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN NIGERIA
Democracy thrives on elections as it is a political system that is governed by the rule and power of the majority. In addition to free and fair elections, an ideal democracy comes with other elements like the rule of law, which permits freedom of expression, among others, existence of political parties, universal adult suffrage and a free press (Jebril, Stetka & Loveless 2013).
The current democratic dispensation in Nigeria has been the longest in the country‘s history having attempted some botched experiments between 1960-1966, 1979-1984 and 1990- 1993. Since 1999, Nigerian democracy has been evolving and witnessing some salient transformations. For example, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominated the political scene for the first 16 years of the current dispensation; also the erstwhile uncoordinated opposition parties were able to form a united front that defeated the PDP. Another landmark event in the 2015 presidential election was the defeat of the sitting president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and swift acceptance of defeat which earned him and the country a great reputation.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was spared, to a large extent, the perennial accusation of rigging in favour of the ruling party. The electoral body introduced Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and Smart Card Readers as measures to check election fraud. The election also witnessed massive participation of the population when compared with previous election as a result of the active mobilization by the traditional and social media (European Union, 2015). Other longstanding predispositions that conspicuously featured in the 2015 election are issues of tribalism, ethnicity and religious difference. For instance, Northern part of the country which was dominated largely by Hausa/Fulani have overwhelmingly showed their support for President Muhammadu Buhari, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, while former President, Goodluck Jonathan enjoyed the majority support from the Southern part of the country where he belongs to. All parties involved in the 2015 presidential election enjoyed the opportunities offered by the mass media more especially radio being the medium that is closer to the electorates.
The contributions of the media, particularly radio, during electioneering campaigns cannot be overemphasized. The more radio disseminated information and enlightenment on the relevance of political participation to the audience, the more interest, understanding and joy they derive from participating in it. Egbon (2002), opined that, to enhance an effective governance and societal welfare especially in the developing countries like Nigeria, radio has taken the lead amongst the mass media as the cheapest and most portable medium. Being the most effective medium for conveying citizens’ problems to the government, radio also encourages and attracts development through mobilization, enlightenment and education by persuading the populace or inducing them to comprehensively participate in the democratic process. Radio is the vital instrument for transmission of government policies and development to the populace and it serves as a link between government and citizens. As an indispensable tool for dissemination of information, radio is widely considered as an agent for achieving both government and social accountabilities. Radio in a democratic society, is always expected to provide platform where a broad range of political opinions, ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours from opposition parties, civil organizations, individual professionals and common citizens can suggest alternative view. Hassan (2010) stated that, radio stands out as the most widely used among Nigerians especially in the rural areas. However, the attraction radio has for majority of the populace are derived from its cheap price and relatively low cost of operation. Radio sets are portable and can be used by the educated and the unlettered. It is in recognition of the powers of the radio that the federal and state governments have established radio stations to broadcast in local and official languages and reach the citizenry. According to Hassan (2010, p. 377)
Radio reaches messages to illiterates, neo-literates and highly educated receivers simultaneously. It is fairly affordable to be owned by everyone. The want of visual effect is compensated by sound effects, both natural and mechanical and so live effect is moderately high. The quality of voice and sound makes the communication fairly enjoyable. Radio does not require captivity. Listeners can receive messages even when they are working. Farmers may listen to farm programme while working in field, also a busy housewife may listen to her favourite programme even while working in the kitchen. Radio does not require power line for operation and so people in remote villages devoid of power lines can also receive messages from this medium.
Therefore, to entrench effective governance and societal welfare, radio has taken the lead as the cheapest and portable medium being most effective as the vehicle for information and feedback system, playing a prominent role in aggregating opinions and contributing to policy formulation (Egbon, 2002). A survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (2011) shows that 82.9% of Nigerians have access to radio. A breakdown of the figure reveals that 53.3% only have access to radio, and 30.6% owned radio as against 31.5% and 13.3% access and ownership of television respectively. In fact, radio breaks the barriers posed by literacy and poverty. For this reason, people tend to listen to radio more than they read newspapers and magazine, and more than they watch television. Consequently, individuals, interest groups and even governments have intensified efforts to own and control at least a radio station, with which to tell their own side of the story (Hassan, 2010).This, among other reasons compelled Bauchi State government to establish its own radio station called Bauchi Radio Corporation (BRC).
Bauchi Radio Corporation (94.6) Amplitude Modulation (AM) formally called Bauchi Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a broadcast organization wholly owned by the Bauchi State government of Nigeria, and established in 1977 barely a year after creation of the state, under the then Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation NBC, now known as Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). As a matter of corporate policy, fundamental goals and objectives of Bauchi Radio Corporation primarily is to keep people of Bauchi State well- informed and educated on the activities, programmes and other sundry matters of the government of Bauchi state as they directly affect the lives of millions of the population in the state (www.brcbauchi.org.ng 2016). The radio station had many political programmes during the 2015 general election. Examples of such programmes include: Maji Ma Gan;, Maza Dangin Gurjiya and Gugar Karfe.
On the other hand, Globe Frequency Modulation 98.5 was among the FM stations established in 2007 with the name Pearl FM, when the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) began introducing FM transmitters in some locations with the aim of bringing information on government activities closer to the people.
The motive behind establishing of the radio station, as any other mass medium of communication, is to educate, inform and entertain. The emphasis largely revolved around creating awareness, surveillance of the environment, correlation of the parts of the society and transmission of cultural heritage (McQuail, 1998). In an effort geared toward actualization of these roles, radio producers came up with various political programmes to quench the political thirst of audience. For instance, political programmes like, Da Ba Zarku, Ga fili Ga Doki, and Ciki da gaskiya were aired on Globe FM Bauchi. In addition to these programmes, both stations broadcast other political messages through straight news, commercials and jingles. These programmes always conveyed messages with the aim of socializing, mobilising and educating the audience to actively participate in politics.
The purposes of initiating and executing these programmes were mainly to satisfy the political needs of the audience. McQuail, (2000) described audience as the collective term for ‘receivers’ in mass communication process. In short, audience is a group of people, who listens to or read a particular media outlet. Audiences are made up of people who are different from each other, in different perspectives. These audiences’ barriers may be political, economic, cultural, educational, psychological, ethnic, religious, physical or intellectual. The above wide diversity of backgrounds, behaviours, attitudes, skills and opinions made audience’s perception of radio messages differ.
Perception is the interpretation attached to cognitions. Schacter(2011), described perception as the identification, arrangement and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. Another psychologist, Pickens, (2005) opined that, perception is the process by which organisms interpret and organize sensation to produce a meaningful experience of the world. Therefore, perception in this context, refers to the process of interpreting political messages aired on radio stations. Before audience will form perception on political programmes, there is need for proper enlightenment from radio being the most effective and accessible medium of communication. It is against this background that this study sought to determine audience perception of political programmes of Globe FM 98.5 and Bauchi Radio Corporation during Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election.
Radio political programmes are expected to inform and educate audience on political issues as well as guide them on how to take political decisions based on full information. Literature on the role of the radio as an instrument of political communication is voluminous and with little or no conflicting accounts. Scholars (e.g., Kombol 2013; Oyesomi & Okorie 2013) have agreed that radio is a viable tool of electioneering campaigns. Suffice it to say that radio political programmes are essential instruments of politicking, it follows logically that an understanding of audience exposure to the political programmes and eventual perceptions about them is essential. Although previous studies (e.g. Obang, 2011; Umeh. 2011) have investigated audience exposure to radio political programmes and audience perception, but still there is little or no evidence in literature on audience exposure and perceptions about radio political programmes, especially in Northern Nigeria where radio is the major source of information (Egbon, 2002).
Radio bias featured seriously during the 2015 presidential campaigns; in that, some radio stations engaged in calumny and hate campaigns. Factors such as ownership, ethnicity, religion, cronyism and personal relationships appeared to dictate the tone and manner of packaging and airing of political programmes and consequently, limited the effectiveness of messages contained in these programmes. It was observed that some people showed apathy to the electoral process and choose to remain mere spectators either because of lack of proper enlightenment from the radio or due to radio’s inability to live up to expectation by being fair and objective in their reportage. Also problematic is scanty literature comparing audience exposure to and perceptions about radio political programmes. Audience exposure to and perception about radio political programmes from Globe FM (98.5) and Bauchi Radio Corporation (BRC), have not been clearly defined, hence the need for this study.
The main objective of this research is to analyse audience perception of political programmes of Globe FM (98.5) and Bauchi Radio Corporation during the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria. While the specific objectives include:
- To ascertain the frequency of exposure to the political programmes from Globe FM and Bauchi Radio Corporation during the 2015 presidential election among residents of Bauchi, and Yobe States.
- To determine which political programme (between Ga fili ga doki of Globe FM and Maji ma gani of BRC) audience perceive as more informative during the 2015 presidential campaigns.
- To examine which of the radio stations’ political programmes (between Globe FM and BRC) the audience perceived as more educative during the 2015 presidential election.
- To determine which radio station’s political programmes (between Globe FM and BRC) audience perceived as having more influence on audience political behaviour.
The following research questions were raised from the above objectives.
- What is the frequency of exposure to the political programmes from Globe FM and Bauchi Radio Corporation during the 2015 presidential election among residents of Bauchi and Yobe States?
- Which political programme (between Ga fili ga doki of Globe FM and Maji ma gani of BRC) do audience perceive as more informative during the 2015 presidential campaigns?
- Which of the radio stations’ political programmes (between Globe FM and BRC) the audience perceived as more educative during the 2015 presidential election?
- Which radio station’s political programmes (between Globe FM and BRC) do audience perceived as having more influence on audience political behaviour?
This study will add to the body of knowledge for the benefit of researchers who might want to engage in studying political communication. Students of communication studies at all levels will equally find it useful. And most importantly, it may serve as point of reference. It will help the media organizations to understanding better the audience perception of their political programmes. Such an understanding will help in shaping programmes planning and implementation. The result of this study will also set a focus for the media practitioners to determine their weak areas in order to improve on salient parts. The result of this study also has theoretical relevance. This is because, the findings can be relied on to propound new theories or test existing ones.
The research analysed the audience perception of political programmes of Globe FM and Bauchi Radio Corporation AM during the 2015 Presidential election in Nigeria. The study was limited in scope to the area of coverage of the two broadcast stations situated in Bauchi metropolis, although, the later has twelve community radio (FM stations) as BRC sub-stations across the Bauchi State. Since it is very difficult if not impossible to cover the entire population. Therefore, the research was confined within the selected local government Areas in the two selected states who clearly and regularly listened to the political programmes of Globe FM and Bauchi Radio Corporation (AM). The selected Local Government Areas are:- Ganjuwa Local Government Area of Bauchi state and Potiskum Local Government Area of Yobe State. These local governments were carefully selected from the two states as they were then governed by two different political parties. The study also measured effectiveness of the two main political programmes (Ga fili ga doki of Globe FM and Maji ma gani of BRC). These programmes shared the same duration, airing at prime times and broadcasting five days in a week.
The study also will be restricted to presidential election of 2015 with respondents drawn only from the above mentioned local government areas. It is important to note that the study will be confined within the period of campaign as stated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) i. e 90 days before the polling day as stated by the electoral act “—–the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day” (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2010).
Mass Media:- This is collective name given to channels and means of of dissemination of information, but for the purpose of this research it specifically refers to Radio
Radio: – Referred to channels and means of using electro imaginative waves to orally disseminate political information.
Audience:- Means dispersed, heterogeneous, large and anonymous listeners of political programmes on Globe FM (98.5) and Bauchi Radio Corporation (BRC) during the 2015 Presidential election in Nigeria.
Perception:- Referred to how audience understand and interpret the concept of the political programmes aired by Globe FM and Bauchi radio Corporation (BRC) during the 2015 Nigeria’s Presidential election.
Political Programmes:- Means individual packages or materials produced and transmitted by The Globe FM (98.5) and Bauchi Radio Corporation (BRC) during the 2015 Nigeria’s Presidential election. These packages or materials depend on the activities