1.1 Background of the study
The primary function of the mass media is to provide information, escapism, and entertainment, give self-worth and link different societies to other societies. (Ndolo, 2006).In any country, the media is expected to be the voice of the voiceless and to seek justice, which is the true nature of journalism.
The media, in the performance of its duty is expected to be neutral, objective and balanced. However, achieving this has proven to be difficult due to some factors, the most significant of all, being censorship of the media.
In Nigeria, as well as other developing countries, freedom is still elusive based on historical information. The media began without any definite statutory control. For instance, the first documented newspaper „IweIroyin (1859)‟ was published without a laid down law by the state regulating the activities of publishers. Although this unregulated situation did not remain unchecked as the government grew increasingly unsettled by media content. It experienced occasional interruption by the then colonial government. This unrest increased with the emergence of nationalist papers and the need for media independence became inevitable.
Since the attainment of independence in 1960, the mass media have been attributed to extra-legal control measures imposed on them to restrict their social responsibilities. It was more felt during the military regime.
Since 1999, the role the media played in ushering in democracy cannot be over-emphasized as they helped to inform, educate and serve as watchdog over the society. In spite of this, it is obvious that the disposition of the society towards the media have not been favourable. Hence, there is need for this research, to find out the extent and influence of news censorship on the performance of media.
Historical Background of Nasarawa Broadcasting Service
In 1959, when the then premier of Western region of Nigeria established a broadcasting station. It has become the practice in Nigeria for states to own their broadcasting stations. Desirous of the need to provide social service by way of educating, enlightening, entertaining and informing the general public of government programmes and activities, the Nasarawa State government enacted an Edict No 19 of 1998, establishing Nasarawa Broadcasting Service NBS.
Nasarawa Broadcasting Service had its pioneers staff deployed from Plateau Radio and Television (PRTV) Jos. The station‟s name was suggested by this pioneering staff and endorsed by the first military administrator Late Wing Commander Abdullah Ibrahim. Nasarawa Broadcasting Service started transmission in February 1997 at the temporary state secretariat along Shendam Road Lafia.
Nasarawa Broadcasting Service is a two in one broadcast outfit (Radio and Television) and operates on a 2kilowatts transmitter (Itelco product) supplied by Kris OnyeKwuluje of Lagos. Nasarawa Broadcasting Service was found to be using the same frequency as Hot 93.5 FM in Abuja and was letter changed to 97.1 FM by NBC in 1997.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In many countries of the world, particularly the developing countries, the media have freedom to publish or broadcast whatever is in the best interest of the society. In developing countries like Nigeria, despite the fact that it has several laws, especially Section 39 Sub-Section (1) of 1999 constitution, which gave right to the media and stipulates that:
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression,
Including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and
Impact ideas and information without interference.”
Inspite of what the constitution has stipulated, government and other influential individuals still infringe on those rights and hinder the delivery of news objectivity. The question this study seeks to answer is, how has news censorship by government influence the performance of Nasarawa State Broadcasting Service?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1. To find out the extent, reporters and editors at Nasarawa Broadcasting Service are faced with problems of news censorship.
2. To determine the various forms of news censorship at the Nasarawa Broadcasting Service.
3. To find out the reason behind the censorship of news at Nasarawa Broadcasting Service.
4. To find out how news censorship has affected the performance of Nasarawa Broadcasting Service with regards to the dissemination of news to its audience.
5. To proffer solutions to problems of news censorship at Nasarawa Broadcasting Service.
1.4 Research Questions
1. To what extent are reporters and editors at Nasarawa Broadcasting Service faced with the problem of news censorship?
2. What are the forms of news censorship at Nasarawa Broadcasting Service?
3. What are the reasons behind the censorship of news at Nasarawa Broadcasting Service?
4. How does news censorship affect the performance of Nasarawa Broadcasting Service in the dissemination of information to its audience?
5. What are the solutions to the problems of news censorship at Nasarawa Broadcasting Service?
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study is limited to Nasarawa State Broadcasting Service. The study concentrated on the staff (reporters and editors) of this media house. The findings of this study could be generalized to include other government owned media houses, bearing in mind that Nasarawa Broadcasting Service is also a government owned media house.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study stands to offer opportunity for the following group of people: media houses, government, journalists, lawmakers and mass communication students.
Through this study, the government will reconsider reasons that make objectivity and accuracy in news content imperative to the development of Nigeria. Journalist will see reasons
why self-censorship should be shunned and more importantly, media house will need to come up with credible and reliable news and information for the survival of the organization.
Law makers also will review laws that promote acts of news censorship, finally this study will act as a guide to students of mass communication undertaking study on similar work.
1.8 Operational Definition of Significant Terms
Mass Media: it is the channel through which information; news, opinion and others are disseminated around the world and received by the categories of mass media namely: electronic media which comprises of radio, television and internet and print media which includes newspaper, magazine, journals and books.
Censorship: It stands for monitoring spoken or written information that goes into the media of communication. And punishment meted for anybody who intend to inform without conforming to prescribed rules or procedures designed by ruling powers.
Control: The limitation of the freedom the media has in gathering and disseminating news.
News: anything timely that interest a number of people.
Influence: The power of news censorship on the performance of the media.
Broadcasting: it is the dissemination of messages and information over electronic media.
Performance: The ability of the media house (NBS) to gather and disseminate information accurately.