1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Mass media in the promotion of government policies has been regarded as very crucial as a result of the media being seen as the fourth estate of the realm which is indispensable.
Mass media, according to Robert White (1999) was introduced as a form of military communication in the 1920s the apogel of nationalism and government propaganda policies. Dominick (1990) one of the striking facts about media is that it was invented by young people for example, Marconi who developed wireless transmitter, was only twenty-three when he did that. But can the adult misuse or abuse mass media because it was the brain child of the young people. So it could be misused by the power that be. Dominick (1990),
It is very important at this point to have an overview of what the word media means. According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary 6th Edition, it defines media as ‘the main way that large number of people receive information and entertainment, that is through radio, television and newspapers. In the above cited dictionary, it went further to define Government as a ‘group of people who are responsible for controlling a country or state’. While policy was defined as a course of action adopted or proposed or a contract of insurance’.
Having defined what media, Government and policy is, it is worthy of note that the media is indeed a viable instrument for national growth. But it is quite unfortunate that most media practitioners are busy seeking for brown envelop and this has put the intended policy of the government into question.
Ternskur (2003) citing Nwankwo (1987). To describe the Nigerian mass media as ‘Government said media is not out of place. Government reflects the will and ideal of the class that controls the existing mode of production, power bloc and political machinery in their media outfits. In a published work and lecture delivered by Mark Eze (2002) which was entitled ‘Fundamentals of communication theories, he identified the four theories of the press which are authoritarian theory, libertarian theory, communist theory and social responsibility theory.
He explained authoritarian theory as a system where press are subordinate to state power, libertarian theory as where press is not an instrument of government but rather a device for presenting evidence and arguments on the basis of which the people can check government and make up their mind as to policy. He further explained community theory as where media are used as an instrument of unity within the state and party.
Finally, social responsibility theory was defined as the total freedom of press without any form of restriction in all the above mentioned theories, the one that is of interest is the social responsibility theory which stipulates the way the press should rightly be and that the press responsibility for the public to get them adequately informed and alert them on time of danger. But the question that is begging for an answer is how far is the media living up to this obligation? Are the people adequately informed? Do they know what they are supposed to know? Are the media given the free hand to operate as guaranteed by section 36 sub.section (2) of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which says that ‘ without prejudice to the generality of sub-section (1) that every person is entitled to own and operate any medium of information and disseminate ideas provided that no person other than government of the federation or of a state or any other person or body authorized by the president shall own and established’. The same section 36 says that ‘every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including freedom to hold and import ideas and information without interference’.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
All over the world, especially third world countries with less degree of press freedom, government has manipulated the masses using broadcasting media. Broadcasting is volatile and its potentials in information dissemination, education, enlightenment, political socialization, and socio-cultural orientation. Most people form their opinions bases on what they learned from the mass media.
This information will help individuals to form an opinion. When the masses are misinformed or uninformed due to excessive censorship or punitive control measures of state owned media by the government, the public might react and take law into their hands. For instance, between 2000 and 2002, there were instances when aggrieved media audience in Anambra, Imo and Abia states resorted to jungle justice by invading and attacking Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) Awka, Imo Broadcasting corporation and Abia’s (BCA) Umuahia. The attack on the broadcasting media stations were as a result of unprofessional reportage of election news. The three mentioned broadcast stations were not alone in unprofessional broadcasting.
Since Enugu state Broadcasting Service (ESBS) is one of the state government owned broadcasting media stations it could be involved in state government policies like the others. The tendency of disinformation and propaganda, the type defined as ‘techniques of influencing human actions by the manipulation of representation’ are prone to exist in a society where government misuses the media. Mass media in the promotion of government policies has a serious concern to everyone due to the fact that the peoples interest are not borne at heart and also by much influences exacted on the media by government and its agencies.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Sycophancy, flattery, and praise singing have been promoted to higher disturbing levels more especially in political broadcasting. State owned media stations have perfected the crude and irritating art of praise singing for governors and their officials.
In fact, a sycophant journalist is a source of irritation to media audiences who often see them through the false less of the media content packaged by the unethical inger. Sycophancy in every ramification, kills the spirit of investigative journalism, especially among young reporters who meet praise singers, and see it as the main stream in journalism practice.
The purpose of this study is to:
1. To find out the responses of the people towards the message they receive from the media about government policies.
2. To find out the elements the message received from the media about government policies has produced
3. To find out how the masses react to media messages.
4. To find out how assessable the mass media are to the people.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
A number of questions have been raised and answers to such questions definitely shall provide solution to the problem of state government misuse of state broadcasting media organization. The belief of the researcher is that the following research questions will provide focus and direct his attention to major issues in the identified problem, and the questions are:
1) Is Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) effective in giving adequate information to the public about government policies?
2) Is Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) truthful and consistent in mobilizing the public?
3) Are the masses influenced by the media in the course of enlightenment?
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The researcher’s interest in carrying out this research at this time is to be informed on the fact of mounting criticisms against state governments, misuse of state government broadcast media. Infact between 2000 and 2005 across the South-East geo-political zone, the state broadcast media audiences had cried foul of unprofessional broadcasting. In Abia, Anambra, and Imo aggrieved media audiences rose against unethical political broadcasting and attacked both the media workers and stations property on several occasions. Also at Ebonyi, it was observed that the state broadcast media was on extension of the state governors wife could sit down in her kitchen and give order for any presenter to be punished for saying what she does not like.
Therefore, this researcher assumes that:
i. The Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) being a state broadcast media outfit cannot be exempted from state government manipulation.
ii. That the station must be involved in sycophantic broadcasting in order to please the state government.
iii. Staff recruitment in the station has strong political undertone or biases.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The benefits of this study are numerous. The use of mass media in the promotion of government policies, demands serious empirical investigation because of its significance for example:
Ø The study result will confirm whether government use mass media in the promotion of its policies.
Ø The study will expose the level of sycophantic practice in the stations.
Ø The study will expose the level of sycophantic practice in the state broadcast media.
Ø Both the state government and management of Enugu State Broadcasting Service will find the study useful in many aspects.