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Nigerian television audiences were puzzled by the way 2015 general election was covered by television stations in the country. The use of derogatory words, disparaging documentaries and series of allegations are some of the features that marked out media reportage of candidates and their political parties during the election. In the light of the foregoing, this study therefore, seeks to find out audience perception of NTA and Channels television coverage of the election. The study adopted survey research method and in-depth interview while questionnaire was used as instrument for data collection. Cochran’s (1963) statistical formula was used in drawing the sample for the study. The sample size for the study is three hundred and eighty-four (384). Probability sampling technique was adopted using multi-stage sampling method. The study finds out that audience were adequately exposed to NTA and Channels coverage of the 2015 general election. The research also shows that 43.2% of the respondents perceived Channels television coverage as excellent while 15.9% perceived NTA’s performance as excellent. The audience equally perceives Channels television to be objective to a very large extent (51.5%) while only (27.9%) perceived NTA to be objective to a very large extent. It was also discovered that 77.7% of the respondents were influenced by the coverage of the election, 51.7% of them to a very large extent and 62.1% voted during the election. There is therefore the need for political reporters in particular to be independent, ethical and be socially responsible while public media should be empowered to derive their funding from the consolidated account in order to stick to the principles of objectivity, balance and fairness.


Title page
List of Tables

1.1       Background of study
1.2       Statement of Problem
1.3       Objectives of Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of Study
1.6       Scope of Study
1.7       Limitation of Study
1.8       Definition of Terms

2.1       Focus of review
2.2       Conceptual Review
2.3       Functions of Mass Media In a Democratic Process
2.4       General elections in Nigeria: A retrospective review
2.5       Regulatory Environment for Media Coverage of Elections in Nigeria
2.6       Review of related empirical studies
2.7       Theoretical Framework

3.1       Research Design
3.2       Population of Study
3.3       Sample Size
3.4       Sampling Technique
3.5       Measuring Instrument
3.6       Validity and Reliability of instrument
3.7       Method of Data Collection

4.0       Introduction
4.1       Data Analysis and Analysis
4.2       Discussion of Findings

5.0       Summary
5.1       Conclusion
5.2       Recommendations


1.1         Background of Study

The Nigeria Mass Media have played significant roles in the pursuit, attainment and sustenance of democracy, right from the colonial era through the Military regime to the current political dispensation in Nigeria. The partisan political colouration of the media incapacitated and prevented them from performing their functions of educating, informing and entertaining the public. The veracity of the media and the credibility of their practitioners became questionable. This was one of the factors that contributed to the fall of the Second Republic in December 1983 (Olayiwola 1991, P40). Political leaders such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikwe used regional Television stations such as Western Nigeran Television and Eastern Nigeria Television respectively, to pass their messages across to the electorates (Biola Ojenike 2002: 27). Rahman (1991, P3) also notes that the transition programmes which culminated in the advent of Nigeria's Second Republic involved public discussions highlighted by the Nigerian press. Apart from the military leaders' acknowledgement of mass media responsibility for interpreting and informing the electorate of the issues, the 1979 Constitution also required special obligations from the press on Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of state policy. In 2011, the former President Goodluck Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party made extensive use of mass media campaign to secure people’s mandate in the then general election. The same Government used mass media in defending its position on subsidy removal of the Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) following a nation- wide protest against the move. The success of the campaign was evidenced in Nigerians’ acceptance of government’s stand concerning the issue.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the mass media contribute immensely to the sustenance of democratic process all over the world (Ehiwario 2011, P79). The mass media generally and television in particular, performs various roles which include the following: information dissemination, status conferral, education, public enlightenment to mention a few. The members of the audience depend on the mass media to detect errors and wrongdoings in the political and social circle of society Ezekiel Asemah (2011, P39). (Ehiwario 2011, P79) cited Kelliner (2004) who shared McQual (1993) view when he opined that ‘it is therefore reasonable to require that the media operate to certain standards with respect to these functions especially as our democratic society rests on the assumption that they do’. Gurevitch and Blumler (1990, P254) advanced the most important democratic functions that the media are expected to perform as: surveillance of socio-political developments, identifying the most relevant issues, providing platform for debate across a diverse range of views, holding officials accountable for the way they exercise their power, provide incentives for citizens to learn, choose and become involved in the political process and resist efforts of forces outside the media to subvert their independence.

It is quite unfortunate that there is palpable fear that the media have been failing in the aforementioned functions by taking sides with politicians especially during political or electioneering campaign. Commercial interests of media owners have been observed to have replaced objectivity which is one of the cardinal ethics of journalism in the coverage of political process. Kelliner (2004, P84) put it this way: “commercial mass media controlled by a few multinational conglomerates have been identified as anti-democratic forces supporting the status quo”. Election has always been regarded as the medium through which people (electorates) choose their leaders. The import of the above is that the mass media play very crucial roles in the political as well as social development of human society. Abati (2007, P7) paraphrases one time American President, Thomas Jefferson who summed up the indispensability of the media in the art and science of governance. Jefferson made a strong case for the media with particular emphasis on newspaper this way: “the basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether to have a government without newspaper or newspaper without a government, I should not hesitate to a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that everyman should receive those papers and be capable of reading them”. On a higher realm, the media set agenda for good governance (Okhakhu and Ate 2011:41).

The role of the Press in a nation’s body polity cannot be over emphasized. It is in the light of this essential role of the media that this study seeks to measure how television audiences in Nigeria perceive the performance of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), public owned tv station and Channels Television, a privately owned tv station, in their coverage of 2015 general election in Nigeria.

1.2         Statement of Problem
The Mass media, regarded as the fourth estate of the realm in Nigeria and the rest parts of the world, are being used as tools for achieving selfish interest by the political elites in recent times. Besides, the mass media in recent times are wrongly used by politicians to pass political messages that are highly derogatory and imbued with falsehood across to the electorates instead of giving them (electorates) correct, concise and complete information during electioneering campaign. Media ethics are now being sacrificed on the altar of political appointments and financial gains. The quest for huge advertisement account acquisition and sustenance takes.....

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