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1.1 Introduction

The traditional roles of mass media (of which television is an integral, if not most popular, segment) include surveillance, correlation, entertainment, and cultural transmission amongst many others (Folarin, 2005; Daramola, 2011). Through the performance of these functions, the mass media provides information; aids the understanding of the information provided (as well as creating a context for the interpretation of the information disseminated); acts as the link between trans-generational and cross-generational transfer of heritage; and provides escapism from life’s harsh realities through play. Important to this study is the entertainment function. Basically, this refers to the media’s ability to provide escape and relaxation (Daramola, 2011).

It has been argued, and research findings have shown, that television provides more for the entertainment function than do other media of mass communication. This is achieved through their programming which according to Solomon (2008) presents the strongest (if not the only) offering that television stations give to the public in exchange for their patronage through viewership and advertising. Amongst the different programme genres provided by television stations for entertainment, reality television programmes (also called reality television) represent one of the major programme types on modern-day television.

Reality television shows, defined by Hill (2005) as “a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded”, have grown in popularity since the 1990s, even though there have been ‘reality shows’ running since the 1940s (Wikipedia, 2011). In Nigeria, with the success of the pioneer ‘modern-style’ reality show, the popularity of reality television shows has grown, prompting several of them to produced and aired.

Reality TV as a genre of television programming that has grown over the years and has become an addiction of some sort for many of their viewers especially youth and female segment of the society. According to Hall (2009:515), reality programmes are now a staple of television programming. Many people watch reality shows for several reasons. Reiss and Wiltz (2014) discovered that an element of reality programmes appeal is that they ‘help viewers to feel important because seeing ordinary people on the shows allows them to “fantasize that they could gain celebrity status by being on television.’ (Hall, 2009:517).

The appeals that reality TV shows have on their audiences have led to many products and organisations to explore it for their marketing communications spending and products and service placement. As viewership increased, producers have also improved on contents and come up with better packages that attracts more audiences to stay glued to their TV screens, thereby, also attracting more sponsorship from organisations.

In Nigeria, reality television show has in recent time significantly proved to be a favourite among the youth – particularly those who fall within the range of ages 18-25 (Chikafe&Mateveke 2012). Among these programmes is the Big Brother Nigeria which is the focus of this study and hereafter referred to as BBNaija.

Big Brother Naija, formerly known as Big Brother Nigeria, is a Nigerian reality competition television series, based on the Big Brother television franchise, in which 12 to 14 contestants live in an isolated house and compete for a large cash prize worth $58,252.43 equivalent to 21,000,000 Nigerian Naira at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted from the house by viewers. The first season of the show first aired on DStv Channel 37 from March 5 to June 4, 2006. The voting results were verified by the auditing company of Alexander-Forbes. A second season of the series premiered on January 22, 2017, and a third season debuted on January 28, 2018.

Reality television has been defined in a number of ways (Patrick Ferrucci1, 2014). Simply described the concept as any programming based in reality, most reality television scholars have determined that this definition is too simplistic

Definitions of the genre may vary slightly, but almost all scholars agree with Murray and Ouellette (2009), who defined reality television as programming that utilizes nonfactors to portray themselves in either organic or planned activities that put them under constant surveillance. Barton (2009) wrote that while an exact definition may be difficult to ascertain, the impact of reality television “is nothing short of phenomenal” (p. 460).

Similarly, Hall (2009) established that the more “real” viewers thought a show was the more attention they paid to it and the more they thought about the situations depicted.

According to Chikafa & Mateveke (2012) the concept of Big brother was borrowed from George Orwell’s novel of 1984 titled ‘fictional dystopia of Oceania’ in which he described a world of never-ending surveillance. In the novel, the dictator who watched over the citizens of Oceania was called Big Brother, and his terrifying slogan was ‘Big Brother is watching you’. In the Big Brother television show, contestants confined in the house compete to escape eviction in order to win the prize money. The reality TV show debuted on the African continent in 2003, and has since then, with the aid of the growth of satellite television in Africa, roused African audience interest and has remained an annual event till date (see: Chikafa&Mateveke 2012).

Big Brother reality show has continued to thrive and at the same time wax stronger mostly among the youth; although, the show, over the years, has been criticized for its display of obscene and vulgar scene which is considered not to be part of the Nigeria culture and that of Africa in general.

Reasoning along this line, Ojoko (2013) writes that Big Brother reality show has no doubt generated a lot of controversies in recent times, and worthy of note is that the fact that the sponsors or organizers are near-faceless, and the show exhibits low moral values and falls short of what is expected in these days where clamour for the good days when cultural and good moral values was at its peak.

The level of immorality being celebrated by the Big Brother reality show is adjudged short of programmes intended for education (Laitto, 2015). Yet, many African audience especially the youth have continued to imbibe the damaging style of the programme and the actors have turned to celebrities (see Oluwakayode, 2013; para 11). This has led to several calls demanding for its ban and censorship. For instance in 2007, the Nigeria House of Representatives issued a directive to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission to discontinue the airing of any clip or debate on Big Brother reality show (Ralvy, 2007). Despite these outcries and the moral panics, the reality show has neither improved in moral tone nor viewership level reduced. Number of viewers that voted on the final week of Big Brother Naija 2017 was estimated at 26 million, most of which were youths. This shows that there is a large followership amongst the Nigeria youths as the reality show seems to have a lasting impact on the youths.

The level of viewership of the series in Nigeria is rather wide, drawing its audience from young people between the ages of 12-18, and adults from 30 and above. Different segments of the show have generated controversy ranging from the fact that the winners are pre-determined, to the nude segments of the show (the Shower Hour) as well as acts on the show which are deemed to be sexually suggestive and morally suspect. This has ignited debate on the appropriateness of the show, especially to young viewers with highly impressionable minds, and the extent to which exposure to the show influence social behaviour.

According to American academy of pediatrics (AAP) 2005 „„Children are influenced by media, they learn by observing, imitating and making behaviour their own”. It is quite depressing to note that since the inception of reality show, there have been increase incidents of immoral behaviour in youths.

BB Naija has both detrimental (negative) and beneficial (positive) effects on youths. Pro-social behaviour and anti-social behaviour are the outcome of youth’s exposure to the show.

Therefore the study seeks to investigate the influence of big brother Naija reality show on the social behavior of Youth in Zaria town.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Television, unlike other media of mass communication (excluding the Internet in some cases) is considered to be the most convincing medium, due to its ability to match sight with sound in delivering its content. This makes it the most impressionable media, and with the right content production and delivery, it can be successful in winning, influencing and harnessing to a set objective.

The Big Brother Africa television series has been fraught with controversy since it started gaining popularity in the Nigerian market. Critics of the show have called for its ban from Nigerian television stations (satellite though), citing the nudity, loose morals, and other factors which they claim, can negatively influence Nigerian youths.

According to Nwafor (2015), the TV reality show now displays uninhibited sexual frolics on open cameras, accusations STDs being passed around, shameless smooching by hormonal charged housemates and ear-tingling swear words are the predominant values being shown, which lamely try to project positive African cultures and traditions; which is ironical because such modern franchises like Big Brother Naija are neo-imperialist means of eroding the very essence of Africanism (Nwafor (2015).

The positive and negative influence of TV reality show on the social behaviour of youth attracts the attention of so many intelligent people all over the world and calls for real academic debates and scholarly studies.

This study is designed to look into the extent to which the Big Brother Nigeria series influenced the social behaviour of youths in Nigeria, using Zaria as the case Study.

1.3 Research Objectives

  1. To assess the influence of big brother Naija reality shows on social Behavior of youths in Zaria.
  2. To examine the increased exposure to reality television shows BB Naija by youths in Nigeria.
  3. To identify ways through which Big Brother Naija reality TV show has contributed to the attitudinal behavior of youths in Zaria.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the influence of big brother Naija reality shows on social Behavior of youths in Zaria?
  2. What is the level of exposure to reality television shows BB Naija by youths in Nigeria?
  3. What are the ways through which Big Brother Naija reality TV show has contributed to the attitudinal behavior of youths in Zaria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The findings from this study will educate undergraduate on how reality shows like big brother Naija can increases the level of promiscuity as a youth and know how to avoid it.

The findings of this study will add to the literature available on the relationship between television exposure and behaviour amongst young people.

It will also provide insight to television programme deciders and government regulators on the modus operandi of ensuring the television’s power to influence is not abused on the altar of profiteering. And lastly, it will hopefully provide the foundation for further research in its specific area.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is centered on the influence of TV reality show, big brother Naija on the social behavior of youth in Zaria.

1.7 Limitations of the study

Limitations are obstacles, hindrances and setbacks that often and always present in the course of finding out about a phenomenon. Olantunji et al (2009). The time frame and methodology adopted for the study was an obvious limitation to the research itself. In the course of embarking on this research work, certain factors posed a serious hindrance like in the area of its expensiveness, to embark on such a research, the inability to measure the large number of people that will be involved posses another serious challenge. Time constraint is another factor, and difficulty in gathering of research materials to execute this project work.

1.8 Definition of terms

Reality Show: This is a type of television program that aims to show how ordinary people behave in everyday life, or in situations, often created by the program makers, which are intended to represent everyday life.

Television: This is an electronic medium through which pictorial message are passed or transmitted to the audience.

Social Behaviour: Connected with activities in which people meet each other for pleasure.

Big Brother Naija: A TV reality show based on the Big Brother TV series in which 12 contestants live in an isolated house and compete for a large cash prize worth $100000 at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted by viewers.


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