CHALLENGES OF CAMPUS RADIO BROADCASTING IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES: A STUDY OF BSU FM 89.9 MAKURDI
The study assessed the challenges of campus radio broadcasting in Nigerian Universities, using BSU FM as a point of focus. The study was anchored on the Technological Determinism theory and the Development Media Theory. The survey research method was adopted with the questionnaire and unstructured interview as the instruments for data collection. Findings from the study showed that Campus radio stations have enormous challenges confronting them, ranging from power supply, manpower, finance, to lack of effective management or unqualified managers. The study also found out the prospects of running campus radio stations when effectively managed. The study therefore concluded that campus radio stations in Nigerian universities have to overcome many challenges ranging from funding, equipment, manpower, lack of constant power supply, lack of students participation, poor management structure amongst others. To this end, the study amongst other recommendations, suggests that any university or other tertiary institutions trying to establish campus radio stations should take into cognizance these challenges and spell out measures to bring them to a barest minimum or curb them before even acquiring a license.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of Study
The personal and unique character of radio makes it one of the most appealing and universal mass media for participatory communication and development (Tomaselli & De Villiers, 1998:147). It has the capacity to reach large audiences, both young and old, including those in remote, underdeveloped and impoverished areas of the developing world (Tavhiso, 2009). The above statement goes a long way to affirm the prospects of radio in our society.
In similar vein, campus radio gives room for students to participate in the programme package and production. This explains why Madamombe (2005) highlighted some of the benefits of campus radio that “Their transmitters may reach only a few miles, but campus radio stations are enabling isolated communities across Africa to voice their own concerns. On air, ordinary citizens discuss issues that are central to them, such as gender relations and combating HIV/AIDS.”
The general belief worldwide is that any campus based community radio station is a mere juke box. However, recent research studies have shown that some of these stations are actually contributing to community development (Osunkunle, 2009). Community campus radio stations offer concrete means for public participation and defence for cultural diversity. “Participation is the engine of democracy and community radio is a tool for participation” (Jordan, 2006 in Suleiman, 2014)
Khan (2010) posits that needless to say, community radio has played a major role in bridging the communication gap between the Government and the local people. As the community radio is still evolving it might be possible that in the near future, we will witness its various new forms which will be technologically more superior as well as user-friendly.
At a time when public-private media lines are vulnerable to blurring and a market in the mantra climate dominates the media landscape, community media provides primacy to the local; it provides a voice to the voiceless, the unheard and the marginalized (Sen, 2010).
Community radio is the modern means of communication for social communication. “It falls under general means of mass communication. Community broadcasting is such a process whereby individuals indulge in interaction with each other to achieve collective objectives. There is action-oriented relationship between individuals involved in interaction while there is mutual friendship and attachment. Similar geographical, cultural and natural settings tend to bring them closer emotionally while chasing common objectives. The main common link for coexistence is sentiments, needs and localness. They are never competing with each other; they coexist. All are habituated to work in groups” (Mainali, 2008).
But like any aspect of human existence, campus radio stations also have their own share of challenges encountered on a daily bases as they try to live up to this task of bringing development to their host communities. Ihechu & Okereke (2012) mentioned finance as one of the challenges facing community radio stations. They posit that “Learning from the impact of license fees and renewal fees on the existing private stations (their inability to make substantial profit after paying license fees ranging from 10 million to 25 Million naira); it becomes difficult for community stations to be commercially viable in the face of the present licensing regime.” In support of the above assertion, Thangaraj, Kumar & Asokan (2007) suggests that the annual licence fee may be cut down for community radios to ease the financial strain. Thangaraj et al (2007) further suggested that the frequencies allotted to low – power community radios should not be allotted to high power commercial transmitters even if they are more than a hundred kilometres away. Proper utilization of revenue earned through commercial advertisements if allowed, should be ensured.
“Campus community radio is still relatively in its infancy in Nigeria. University campuses in many other countries such as the United States have well-established community radio stations, serving niche audiences while simultaneously offering a nursery slope for apprentice broadcasters” (David, 2015)
BSU FM 89.9 has her own share of these challenges as are almost peculiar to other stations across Africa. A circumstance of note is the fact that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in her Nigerian Broadcasting Code of 2010 the 5th edition restricted the funding of a campus radio station to the following: Subvention; Spot announcements from within the Campus community (Not exceeding 9 minutes in every 1 hour broadcast; Donations or grants; Events coverage within the Campus community; Sale of station’s memorabilia (Broadcast Code, 2010). Although the funding of these stations is usually limited; many stations also solicit programme underwriting support, listener contributions, and outright donations, which are important because advertiser/commercial content is
severely restricted by law on non commercial stations (Sauls, 1995).
Challenges specific to a university-based community radio station fall into four main categories: Seasonal issues, solving the learning/performance dilemma, volunteer workforce tensions and the innovative versus the normative (David, 2015). Another challenge in line with this is the issue of programming. According to Fauteux (2015:32) “the primary role of community based campus radio stations is to broadcast alternative programmes that are not typically heard on commercial radio, but also in depth spoken word programming, community specific programming and special interest music. In addition to students, members of the community at large are also involved in the production and programming of community based campus stations. This stipulation is passed down to campus stations from the CRTC and it ensures that campus radio content is different from and alternative to commercial and public radio stations in the same area”.
A campus station is not only expected to serve the needs of the university community, but also the community that houses the institution which the campus station exist on. Whatever reasons might have informed the establishment of a campus radio station, one thing is clear: it must deliver content which satisfies the tastes and meets the needs of the community (Ojebode, Onekutu &Adegbol, 2010).
Another issue worthy of note is a situation where campus community radios become tools of propaganda in the hands of their owners or the government of the day as the case may be. According to Singh (2010), the little media that is growing parallel to the big global entities has to remain on guard and ensure maximum community participation, so that it does not turn into a puppet. This media which are closest to the community in the form of citizen journalism, grassroots press and community radio should not turn into a gimmick in the hands of the large conglomerates. Danger also lurks in the form of organisational control that may want to use the medium for propaganda. The medium and its use should have all the mechanisms of the involvement of the community.
BSU FM like other stations under the same category suffers power issues. Given the onerous cost of generator fuel, one might expect more solar powered radio stations in rural areas, but they are not the majority. Reasons include the initial expense of the panels, as compared to a diesel generator, the fact that panels can be a target for thieves, and the difficulties associated with replacing and sourcing the battery(ies) (Myers, 2008).
This research therefore seeks to find out some of the challenges faced by campus community stations, using BSU FM as a study focus. The study is set out to ascertain if for sure the station is faced with challenges, so as to suggest solutions that would at least help the station bring these challenges to the barest minimum.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There is a dearth of information regarding campus community radio in Nigeria. Much attention has been given to the role of community radio in development, education and community representation, but very little focus on community radio’s functioning within the current broadcast system (Lotter, 2007). Setting up and running an effective community radio faces a lot of challenges, the biggest issue being that of sustainability. Among the major reasons observed is lack of community interest, insufficient content, sporadic financial assistance. All these, combined with the bureaucratic problems of getting a license hinder the process of growth of community radios (Pradhan, 2011), and BSU FM is not left out on these myriad of problems facing campus community radios.
It has been observed that the challenges facing BSU FM station in her infancy stage of operation includes poor management structure, inadequate staff/personnel, paucity of funds and bureaucratic quagmire from the university management. These problems are not however peculiar to BSU FM alone, as similar issues were noted at Simli Radio in Dalun, within the Tolon-Kumbungu District of the Northern Region of Ghana by (Al-hassan, Andani
& Abdul-Malik, 2011), when they revealed that “the radio has faced leadership difficulties. It has remained a big challenge to get a Station Manager. The absence of such a figure has negatively affected service delivery and management of the station.” Al-hassan et al (2011) further observed that “the station could not meet its target of the social programmes because of power outage. Also, there is a high tendency of disappearance of radio programmes after individual presenters leave the organisation”.
In the course of the research, it was observed by the researcher that BSU FM had gone off air from October 2016 and remained off air till the time the research was concluded. The reason for the shutdown was because the transmitter which was supposed to be a test-run transmitter could not continue serving the station for long so it shutdown on one of their
broadcast days. This becomes a serious issue of concern because even though the station was running five hours weekdays excluding Saturdays and Sundays, the transmitter could not serve, which begs the question, what if it were to be run like other campus radio stations like UNILAG FM, which runs nineteen (19) hours daily from 5:00 am to 12:00 am. This undoubtedly shows that the school management was not prepared for the station in the first place. Another issue observed by the researcher was the issue of staffing or adequate man power to run the station. Majority of the presenters were students in their final years of study and it became a very big issue trying to get students from the lower classes to fill these vacant positions soon to be left. The researcher also happened to be among the graduating student presenters.
This study therefore seeks to investigate the perceived challenges that campus- community radio stations face from the time of kick off to when they become part of the institution of learning that houses them, using BSU FM 89.9 as a point of focus. To this end, the research investigates the challenges and prospects of established community radios in Nigerian universities with delimitation on BSU FM 89.9., Makurdi.
1.3 Objectives of Study
i. To find out problems associated with BSU FM campus radio broadcasting.
ii. To determine to what extent these problems hinder the effective running of BSU FM campus station.
iii. To suggest ways of either curbing or minimizing these challenges.
iv. To assess ways through which BSU FM would be effectively managed.
1.4 Research Questions
i. What are the problems associated with BSU FM campus radio?
ii. To what extent do these challenges hinder the effective running of BSU FM campus station?
iii. In what ways can these challenges be minimized or curbed?
iv. In what ways can BSU FM be effectively managed for efficiency?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will draw the attention of government and concerned citizens to the plights of campus radio stations on various campuses in Nigeria.
The study will also be of immense significance to researchers in the academia in the 21st century. It does not only aim at contributing to knowledge but also providing a foundational basis for further studies into challenges of both campus and commercial radio stations in Nigeria and even Africa.
This study will also definitely add resource to available literature and will be used to promote informed decision making and policies by governmental regulatory bodies and guide them in the right direction on matters concerning campus radio broadcasting.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is restricted to the challenges of campus radio broadcasting in Nigerian universities, a study of BSU FM 89.9, Makurdi. Geographically, the study is further restricted to management staff of BSU FM, academic staff of Mass Communication Department, the managers of Radio Benue, Harvest FM and NTA, Mass Communication students of Benue state University and NUJ registered Journalists.
To this effect, interviews would be conducted with major members of the management staff of BSU FM: The head, department of Mass communication, the programmes producer, the chief engineer, the staff adviser, news editor in chief, the transmitter operator and a senior duty continuity announcer, while questionnaire would also be administered to the academic staff, the three managers of Radio Benue, Harvest FM and NTA, Mass Communication students of Benue State University and NUJ registered Journalists in Makurdi.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Campus: A campus is traditionally the land on which a college or university and related institutional buildings are situated. Usually a college campus includes libraries, lecture halls, residence halls, student centres or dining halls, and park-like settings. A modern campus is a collection of buildings and grounds that belong to a given institution, either academic or non-academic.
Broadcasting: According to Onabajo (2000), “broadcasting has been defined as the transmission of information through radio waves from a radio or television station, to the audience in far and near places, through their receivers, which help in decoding such information”. Broadcasting as also defined by (Akpede, 2010) is the transmission of messages from a station to an audience scattered over a given environment or area. Broadcasting could also be seen as “the process of sending out and receiving messages through the air by a scientific method called electromagnetic waves” (Sambe, 2008).
Radio: Chiakaan (2005) in Chiakaan & Ahmad (2011:96) views radio as “a broadcast medium that limits itself to the transmission of messages which are aurally received by members of the public”. Because radio activities or programmes are received by members of the public on a general note, this makes radio, like television to be a broadcast medium Chiakaan & Ahmad (2011:96).
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