INFLUENCE OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES IN BROADCASTING A STUDY OF TELEVISION STATIONS IN PORT-HARCOURT METROPOLIS
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The advances in new media technologies are an effective catalyst for change across the globe. These technologies have not only radically improved the mode, accuracy and speed of message production and transfer; they have also redefined the concept of broadcasting. However, it remains increasingly difficult to ascertain the place of broadcasting in a world that is overloaded with information. In order to generate data for the study, the survey research method was used to collate relevant data for the study. Findings from the analyzed data show that new media technologies have had a significant influence in output of the stations under study. The problems of lack of technical know-how cost of acquiring these equipment remains the barriers to their effectiveness. Base on the findings, the study recommends, that the government should reduce value added tax on new media equipment, as this will help reduce the overall cost of the equipment in order to lessen the stations financial burdens. New media technologies have the capability to further the scope of broadcasting by broadening their horizon and making Nigeria broadcasting a world contender. This can only be achieved if the broadcast media go out of their way to procure new and better facilities. Attempts should be made to educate old and prospective broadcasters through the use of workshops, symposia, seminars and training courses.
1.1 Background of the Study As the world grows complex and sophisticated, new media technologies are invented. The invention of new media technologies has always been a catalyst for change in the broadcast industry. This change can be attributed to the introduction of new media technologies in broadcasting occasioned by giant technological advancement. The advancement in media technologies has cut the barrier of time and space in our broadcast industry; it has also made communication easier and more democratic and the creation and distribution of media content easier. No wonder Defleur and Dennis (1991: 229) observed that: Technology has always been a metaphor for change in media industry. As far back as Gutenberg, it was technology: the movable type that spurred change. Later, fast printing presses, the telegraph, zinc engraving, modern photography, radio, television, fibre optics, and other technologies heralded new developments for media and their audience. The emergence of new media technologies and the imaginative applications of these new technologies and older technologies make it possible for the society to be more informed. It also makes information processing, delivery, storage and retrieval easier. As the world strives towards globalization, the new media technologies are believed to be a great facilitator of this move. Nsude (2004:102) believes that the human family is disunited and fragmented into nations and cultures with conflicting interest and perceptions and there is need therefore for a more united world. Throughout history, new media and new forms of media delivery have continually appeared. Today we have witnessed the arrival of a global community brought about by advances in communication technologies. This has invariably brought to fore the concept of globalization. Marshal McLuhan, a Canadian Scholar, who foresaw the effect of technological change in communication, said that the human society has been restored to a „global village‟. The concept of global village assumes that “communication technology” now work like the nervous system in the human family. Messages could be sent and received with surprising speed. This therefore has shrunk the world into a smaller place not because of a contraction in landmass, but due to the marvels in communication technologies. Baran (2009:314) citing McLuhan states: The media permit us to experience the world with a scope and depth otherwise impossible. Media, then, are extension of our bodies. Just as clothes are an extension of our skin, permitting us to wander farther from our warm caves into the cold world; just as the automobile is an extension of our feet, enabling us to travel farther we could ever walk; television extends our vision and hearing, and computers extend our central nervous system. With television we can see and hear around the world, beyond the galaxy, into the future, and into the past. Computers process, sort, categorize, reconfigure, and clarify. The new media technologies play functional roles and make tremendous contributions to the day to day running of the broadcast industry and society. Each advance in communication increases our power to convey and record information, and each has played a role in prompting significant changes in our culture and society. It is difficult to digest fully the influence of one medium before another comes on the scene. Prior to the arrival of new media technologies, broadcasting equipment has been mechanical or analogue in nature. These mechanical states of the equipment hinder effective production and dissemination of news and information. Even the transmission of broadcast signals was often affected by wave interference, hedges and unclear signals. The reception of signals was largely limited to the carrying capacity of the transmitter. The arrival of the computer has had enormous influence in the production process in the broadcast industry. The computer has put tremendous speed on news reporting and editing making the process almost instantaneous. This process lays a strong emphasis on accuracy as Agba (2001:3) citing Swinton (1974) observes, “You cannot catch up with an error in an era of satellite circuits and high speed wires” in today‟s cyberspace, high-tech age, the computer has reduced, if not completely removed, the difficulties in the production of media products through the electronic system. For instance, in the past, the production and distribution process in a broadcast industry involved clear definitive steps and employed manual labour. Today, studies have revealed that broadcast industry especially in Europe and North America not only gather information but also have their stories written using computers. This modern technology eliminates the need for compositors to type because reporters have done the key stroking and the story already exists in an electronic form. In addition, many reporters run their stories through computers that correct spelling and grammar. Also editors plan the pages of stories on computers, further reducing the need for compositors. For instance with the new media technologies AIT news can be accessed from any part of the world. The station‟s transmission on satellite has broken the barriers inherent in analogue system and non-satellite system. However, the introduction and acquisition of new media technologies have strongly influenced broadcast transmission and reception particularly in Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Port – Harcourt, Rivers State Television (RSTV) Port – Harcourt and Daar Communications Ltd (AIT) Port – Harcourt. According to Agba (2001:47) technology is integral to a global marketplace wherein media companies and individual media come together and compete across national boundaries in a fashion unheard of only some years back. Broadcasting as a branch of mass communication has witnessed a landmark transformation into a field of vigorous competition with vast liberalization of infrastructure, information can now be digitalized, transported, stored, retrieved, modified and distributed. High speed digital electronic highways serve as the common technology through which these pieces of information are transported. With the introduction of new media technologies, the broadcast media have penetrated deeply into the basic fabrics of our social institutions in the society by beaming out information and programmes that meet and satisfy the needs and aspirations of their listener and viewer. In the words of Bittner (1989:37) Technology has aided the media to move from the experimental stage, to the present stage where they now exert great influence on world events. With the introduction of new technologies in broadcasting, such as the Internet, satellite cable system, fibre optics to mention but a few, journalism practice across national boundaries has taken a drastic turn for the better. Technology has aided both the print and broadcast media to establish a strong presence in the Cyberspace. This brings us to the concept of technological convergence. By technological convergence we mean the continuous development in media technology aimed at bringing about a blend in technologies in the process of message delivery. Okoro (2006:37) citing Folkerts et al states that in this process, technological changes not only create new forms of media but also cause formally distinct media forms such as newspapers to blend or overlap functions with the new media, as is now the case with news on television and the internet. Ilo (2000) in Okoro (2006:37) agrees that this convergence is rooted in technological innovations in microelectronics, telecommunications and the computer. In this mode, all kinds of data, irrespective of their origin can be manipulated and integrated through digitalization on the basis of their common informational structure. With this development they will become instrument for the dissemination and propagation of local Nigerian news and culture across Nigeria borders and thus, maintaining a strategic presence on the information superhighway. In view of the above submission, it is pertinent for the broadcast media professionals to be acquainted and able to manipulate these technologies and also have good knowledge of the workings of these new technologies employed in broadcasting. This implies that, the media professionals should know the means of acquiring them, installing and maintaining these equipment and the ability to overcome the challenges posed by these innovations as a catalyst for change and as the pivot around which great competition revolve in the broadcast industry. To authenticate the above assertion Mbam (2007:64) affirms that information and communication technology (ICT) is applied in communication profession because media practitioners need organized (systematic or formalized) way of handling information for proper planning, proper decision making, and proper management in organization and individual activities which information are meant for. It is unarguably becoming a statement of fact that the success of any organization; institution, business, or individual venture depends largely on the level of communication effectiveness and efficiency at its disposal. Every business or organization, regardless of its size or purpose, is concerned with processing of facts (or data) about its operations in order to provide accurate information to its management. This function could be carried out faster through the use of modern communication channels like internet, television, motion picture etc, which disseminate information to all nooks and crannies of the populace. These modern communication devices go a long way to alleviate the numerous human efforts being wasted in our previous (un–organized or non–systematic) manner of running our organizations or collecting our information (Mbam: 2002). The needs in today‟s organizational and institutional pattern to save time, cost and minimize the process of organizing and coordinating our big activities is the core function of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). However, the story is different in the Nigerian broadcast industry. Even in the face of technological advancement in other countries and the applications of these new technologies in the broadcast media, the acquisition and use in Nigeria is rather slow. Nigerian broadcasters are yet to catch up with the trend in modern technologies, although communication experts foresaw long ago that more private broadcast media will spring up in Nigeria by 21st century, giving communication its place and priority in the country. The use of new information technologies in Nigeria is a recent phenomenon, as the media are doing their best to catch up with the trend of things in the world in terms of the acquisition and use of these new technologies. These technologies are capable of creating sophistication in the method of broadcasting and also improve the output and quality of programmes. According to Amuchie (2001:48), in a world that has become a global village where information travels faster than the speed of light, any country that stand aloof, whether out of ignorance or lack of appreciation of this necessity will certainly contend with backwardness. The Nigerian broadcast media cannot afford to stand aloof where others are making progress, thus, to fight the shackles of backwardness successfully, there is need to embrace the use of these technologies in order to improve the quality of the programmes and broadcast. The improvement of the broadcast media all over the world is greatly due to the application of the right technologies and communication system within their broadcast network Malcom (2001: 217). In view of the foregoing, a problem arises as to how to gauge the influence of these new technologies on broadcast content, message delivery, information reach and quality. Given the startling development of new media technologies and the expectation that proper application of these technologies would improve broadcasting in Nigeria this study will therefore, examine the Influence of new media technologies on broadcasting. A study of television stations in Port-Harcourt metropolis. These television stations in focus include Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Port- Harcourt, Rivers State Television (RSTV) Port –Harcourt and African Independent Television (AIT) Port – Harcourt. 1.1.1 Brief History of NTA Port-Harcourt The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was established by decree 24 of 1977. The decree was promulgated in March 1977 having effect from April 1976. By the decree, the Nigerian Television Authority became the only body empowered to undertake television broadcasting in Nigeria. Thus, all existing state broadcasting stations were thereby taken over and incorporated into NTA. NTA Port-Harcourt was borne as a result of this decree as far back as April 1972. The premise of present NTA Port-Harcourt was formerly the premises of Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation (RSBC). In 1973, there was recruitment of staff to take over the operations of the equipment. Work commenced both at the programmes and engineering departments. The first signal of NTA Port-Harcourt was beamed in December 1974 from a 100 watt (sound) Thomson CSF transmitter. By 1975, the major equipment was installed with a 10 – kilowatt Thomson transmitter. The station was operating from a Thomson OB-van as the transmitter. The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Port-Harcourt is now one of the eight network centers created and is in-charge of the following production centers: NTA Uyo, NTA Yenogoa and NTA Calabar. 1.1.2 Brief History of Rivers State Television (RSTV) Port – Harcourt Rivers State Television, Port – Harcourt (RSTV) started transmission as a local TV station with a 10 – kilowatt transmitter on channel 55 Ultra High Frequency (UHF) in 1985. In 1991, the station was upgraded to cope with the challenges of modern broadcasting. With a powerful 30 kilowatt transmitter, the station beams its signal on channel 22 Ultra High Frequency (UHF). The station is located at Elelenwo near Port – Harcourt; RSTV is equipped with state of the art gadgets, effectively covering: Abia, Imo, Delta, Edo, Akwa – Ibom, Cross – Rivers, Rivers, Enugu and Anambra States. Its spill – over is also felt in parts of Ondo and Ebonyi states, a development which strongly recommends RSTV to advertisers. With high professional programming and excellent picture and audio quality, RSTV beats the reach of other TV stations in the South – East and South – South Zones respectively resulting in the ever expanding viewership of the station. 1.1.3 Brief History of DAAR Communications (AIT Port-Harcourt) One of the private media companies that got the approval of the military government to go into private broadcasting is Daar Communications Limited. From the stables of this company sprout out the African Independent Television (AIT) .This station hit the Nigerian airwaves with quality broadcast in December 1996 in Lagos zone. Following the successes trailing their performances in Lagos, coupled with the class of license granted them, they went ahead to build their station in Rivers State precisely Port-Harcourt in 2003 extending their reach to the inhabitants of Port-Harcourt and its environs. 1.2 Statement of the Problem It is saddening that despite the startling developments in media technology, TV broadcasting in Nigeria especially in Rivers state is yet to assimilate the new innovation or imbibe the realities of modern broadcasting. The advancement in media technology can only be said to be achieving the desired ends when they readily and continuously influence positively the operations of the Nigerian broadcast media. What this translates to, is that the success or otherwise of all these technologies can only be measured in terms of the extent to which they bring improvement on the accuracy, speed and transfer of message and redefine the concept of broadcasting to an enviable height. The use of new media technologies can only be said to be effective when the media professionals and audience benefit from the technologies through improved quality of programmes. The problem still remains as to how to assess the extent to which the new media technologies have influenced the television stations in Port – Harcourt metropolis. ( NTA Port-Harcourt, RSTV Port-Harcourt and AIT Port-Harcourt). How have the new media technologies enhanced productivity in terms of accuracy and news production in these stations? Are the public broadcast stations more abreast of the influence of the new media or the private broadcast station more aware of this influence? How have the new media technologies influenced the members of staff? How proficient are the members of staff in the use of these new media technologies? What are the challenges posed by these technologies to the members of staff? How do the stations acquaint their staff with the operations of new media technologies? Are these influences positive or negative? How have these technologies helped to overcome the barriers of time space and distance? What are the resultant effects of the total qualities of programmes as a result of the use of new media technologies? This research is therefore set basically to answer this question; what influences have new media technologies played in broadcasting, with regard to NTA Port- Harcourt, RSTV Port-Harcourt and AIT Port- Harcourt. 1.3 Objectives of Study The objectives of this study include the following; (i) To determine the extent to which the new media technologies have influenced the operations of the broadcast media. (ii) To examine the level of proficiency of the members of staff in the use of new media technologies. (iii) To determine the extent to which new media technologies have been incorporated into the stations operations. (iv) To determine the challenges posed by new media technologies to broadcast operations. 1.4 Significance of Study This study will be beneficial in the following ways: The findings will help to reposition the thought pattern and help media professionals to get acquainted with the new technologies to help produce quality programmes. The findings of this research will add to the existing literatures and act as a handy material for students who might have interest in researching further on the topic. The study shows the extent to which broadcast media have incorporated the use of modern technologies in their operations. The findings from this research ascertained how favourable or unfavourable these new technologies are to the broadcast media. 1.5 Research Questions To realize the objectives of this study, the following research questions were asked; (1) To what extent have the new media technologies influenced the operations of the broadcast media in terms of reach, programmes, economy etc? (2) How proficient are the members of staff in the use of the new media technologies? (3) To what extent have the stations incorporated new media technologies in their operations? (4) What are the challenges posed by these new technologies to the broadcast industry? 1.6 Theoretical Framework According to Ohaja (2003: 63) knowledge does not exist in a vacuum. In every discipline, there is a body of theories that provide the explanation for observable phenomena in the field. Therefore, this research adopted the following theoretical postulations: 1.6.1 The Technological Determinism Theory This theory was propounded by Marshal McLuhan in 1962. He explains Technological Determinism Theory by stating that communication technologies shapes how we as individuals in the society think, feel, act and how society operates as we move from one technological advancement to another. This theory postulates that changes in communication modes largely determine the course of history. This goes to show that the explosion in information technology would be followed by change, both culturally, socially and economically. Williams (1990:13) went further to say that the central believe of this theory lies in the inevitable power of technologies to cause widespread social change. New communication technologies are discovered, by an essentially internal process of research and development which then sets the conditions for social change and progress. Griffins (2000:289) opined that this” theory regards our present culture upheaval as a direct result of the information explosion fostered by television and the computers”. Technological Determinism Theory emphasizes the importance of the medium and subsequently, the influence which the medium can have on the audience. McQuail (2005;12) calls it media – centric theory where he states that the theory sees mass media as a primary mover in social change, driven forward by irresistible developments in communication technologies. Schement and Curtis (1995) in McQuail (2005:102) provide us with a detailed “Timeline” of communication technologies inventions, which they classify according to their being either “Conceptual or Institutional” (such as computers and satellites). History shows several apparent trends but especially a shift over time in the direction of more speed, greater dispersion, wider reach and greater flexibility. They underline the capacity for communication more readily to cross barriers of time and spaces. This theory emphasizes the importance of the medium and subsequently, the influence which the medium can have on the audience. Elucidating on this, Nwodu (2004: 74) opined that the theory shows not only that the medium, rather than the content of communication influence both audience and the operators and that, the communication technologies are turning the world into a global village. 1.6.2 Diffusion of Innovations Theory In explaining this theory as it relates to this study, Diffusion is the process of spread of a given idea or practice, over time via specifiable channels Katz et al (1963).This theory holds that for a new idea or innovation to diffuse, there must be awareness stage, interest stage, evaluation stage, trial and adoption stage. They added that different types of innovations require different kinds of adoption units. This implies that the success of any new innovation depends highly on the level of awareness, interest and adoption that is given to that innovation. Therefore, for new media technologies to have influence on the operations of the broadcast media, the professionals must be aware of the technologies, it must interest them to use. Also they should be able to evaluate the output and see how effective it is and decide whether to adopt it or not. 1.7 Scope of the Study The interest of this study lied in the influence of new media technologies in broadcasting with regard to television stations in Port – Harcourt metropolis. The work does not study the generality of influence on all the equipment used in broadcasting; rather it restricts itself to only new media (Internet), satellite technology, cable system, computer, digital cameras, fibre optic, teletext and digital television employed in broadcasting. Analogue equipment and other equipment not mentioned above are not within the scope of this study. 1.8 Definitions of Terms For a proper understanding of this work, key terms used are defined based on their conceptual relevance to this study. Influence: According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (7th ed.). Influence is the effect that somebody or something has on the way a person thinks or behaves or on the way that something works or develops. It could be further said as the power that somebody or something has to make somebody or something behave in a particular way. New Media: According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (7th ed.).New Media means new information and entertainment technologies, such as the Internet, CD-ROMs and Digital Television. On the other hand McQuail (2005:136) simply defines the “new media as a disparate set of communication technologies that shares certain features apart from being new made possible by digitalization and being widely available for personal use as communication devices. Media Technologies: This refers to any special device or medium that helps in the procession, distribution, storage, display and reception of information. Broadcast: This is the business of sending out radio and television signals over a distance, to a large heterogeneous audience by means of airwaves. Broadcast Media: This is that electronic media or channel that uses the airwaves which enables signals and information to be transmitted to a large and diverse audience. Convergence: According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (7th ed.).Convergence means to move towards a place from different direction and meet. Digital: According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (7th ed.). Digital means using a system of receiving and sending information as a series of the numbers, numbers one to zero, showing that an electronic signal is there or is not there. Globalization: This means international integration. It can be describe as a process by which the people of the world are unified into a single society. This process is a combination of economic, technology, socio – cultural and political forces. www.wikipedia.org. Internet: According to the wikipedia. org the internet also known as the “Net” or the “Web” can be easily understood as a “network of networks”. Specifically, it is the worldwide publicly accessible network of international computer networks that transmits data by packet switching using the standard internet protocol (IP). Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (7th ed.). “Internet” is an international computer network connecting other networks and computers from companies, universities, etc.Get Complete Materials