IMPACTS OF TELEVISION AS A TOOL FOR POLITICAL MOBILIZATION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The mass media as a communication tool hand and are still exerting great influence on a wide range of political and social issues globally. On the one hand, media can be used as political instruments for building a nation and promoting the legitimacy of a regime by shaping the nation’s political culture and influencing its public opinion. On the other hand, media can function as watchdog of government performance. Realizing that mass media can play very important roles in influencing politics, scholars in both political science and communication studies have conducted considerable research to explore the interaction between media and politics. Black’s Politics and News (1982), Horowitz’s Power, Politics and People (1963), Seymour-Ure’s The Political Impact of Mass Media(1974), Well’s Mass Media and Society (1972), Collins and Murroni’s New Media New Politics (1996), Wheeler’s Politics and the Mass Media (1997), Sproule’s Propaganda and Democracy (1997) and Moy, Patricia, and Scheufele Media Effects on Political and Social Trust (2000) are examples in this regard.
Apart from the studies in these areas, theories have been created to explain the power the media has in the society, some of these theories, Lasswell’s propaganda theory (1938), McComb and Shaw’s agenda-setting theory (1972) and Tuchman’s framing analysis theory (1978) are the most relevant ones in the study of media effects on politics. They all directly study the interaction between media and politics, and each study assumes that media can play a powerful role in influencing politics both within one nation and between nations.
The media is made up of both print and digital, encompassing both broadcast media and social media, the media play a huge role as versatile means of communication in every society. Radio’s usefulness for example is primarily journalistic education, cultural enlightenment, people mobilization, societal propaganda and entertainment. Radio also promotes development economically, increases political participation and the general awareness on national issues to inspire unity in the society.
The unique ability Radio has is that unlike the print which has an appeal primarily to the literate class of the society Radio meets the needs of the illiterate (not so educated) class of the society and also the literate class. Radio with its appeal played important roles in sending across political messages. This role has made it contribute immensely to the education of the mass populis politically, by enlightenment, awareness, consciousness and in some cases a room for political discussions. The role of Radio in politics has always been maximized by politicians during campaigns towards elections especially during democratic rule in Nigeria, allowing the general public the opportunity to listen to, manifestos of politicians, criticisms by aspirants or political activist when the aspirant is running for re-elections and other programs Radio house may run in a bid to educate the public to make rational choices responsible to sustain the growth of the country.
Media cannot be eradicated in any political system especially in a democratic society. They make up the fourth estate of the realm while the other three were constitutionally founded the media is not, it is independent, free of governmental influence and primarily responsible to the Public. The media creates awareness amongst the public by letting them know the problems and issues the state is faced with and their possible solutions or consequences if any. Media dictates the agenda of the day by putting ideas and thought before the people for them to think and talk about.
In Nigeria, the media has been instrumental in politically transforming the minds of the public. According to Akpan (1987, p.22), media information has a tremendous energy for change. Change in political context refers to the opportunity for improvement in the political sphere of the people and taking away ignorance. In politics, the electorate need media information to ensure full participation in elections knowing what is required of them. Furthermore, Ezeokoli (1988) in her article ‟Mass Media and Social Political Transformation”, noted that the politics of any nation depends heavily on the mass media as platforms of articulating and marketing of ideas and issues on national problems to the people.
This study will therefore examine the contributions of Radio in mobilizing and stimulating political participation of the people of Abeokuta-North LGA towards electing a new democratic government in this 2015 general election.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
In democracies globally, the media primarily function as the watch dog of the people. They mobilize and inform the people creating awareness on political culture of the time. The mass media has a role in educating the public on the system of politics especially where the orientation of the citizen of a nation is poor towards politics, which affects their perceptions of political legitimacy of a government.
The low level of political participation has affected the process of national growth and political development in Nigeria. Ofoeze (1998) explained that Nigeria stunted growth politically has its location in the crisis of political participation. This is so because of the level of electoral ignorance as to the power which the citizens have in deciding who they put in power, due to the antics done by the military, killing electoral participation through their interventionist coup de tat. The incumbent’s proclivities of rigging electoral votes have also made political participation low.
In recent times, the media in Nigeria has evolved from its role as a channel for communication to a tool of continual enlightenment of the public improving public lifestyle and reducing ignorance. The role of radio, as an instrument of political mobilization cannot be over emphasised. Radio continued participation in political affairs has raised interest of politicians, as politicians are ready to use radio to pursue their own personal interest. Radio due to its universality of context can reach the people on a wide scale affecting democratic growth of the nation.
The media can be considered windows, through which the political landscape of a country can be viewed, both from within the country and by external observers. In other words, the media can be used as explanatory factors for politics. Unlike many of the liberal-democratic societies, where great attention has been given to the roles of mass media in affecting the nations’ political life, the media’s roles have been marginalized, if not ignored completely, in the study of Nigerian politics and society at large. Although there are a number of available studies on the media’s role in Nigerian politics, few of them provide systematic and updated analysis of how dynamic the media has been in reforming and increasing the political participation rate of the Nigerian people.
The media is constantly developing, becoming widely used for marketing purposes in politics. Thus further research is needed to provide a better understanding of how radio information is both promotional in encouraging political participation, for the electorate and the political parties who want the electorates to vote their candidates in. It is for this purpose this study is set out to answer the question; what is the impact of Rock City FM radio station on political mobilization of the people of Abeokuta-North LGA in Ogun State?
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objective of the study is to see how well media outfits, using Rock City FM, help in creating awareness on political issues in Abeokuta-North LGA.
- To find out if Rock City FM played an important role in creating awareness during the elections.
- To find out if Rock City FM information on the elections was taken as a credible source of information.
- To determine the extent to which the political programs aired on Rock City FM encourage political participation amongst its listeners.
This research seeks to determine how well the media (radio) has carried out its function as an instrument of political mobilization and information disseminating.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research question will aim to guide this study:
- To what extent did Rock City FM create awareness on the electoral process?
- To what extent were campaign and electoral information on Rock City FM perceived as credible by the electorate during the elections?
- How well did Rock City FM mobilize and inform its listeners during the elections?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will see to what extent the media (Radio) has an effect in mobilizing and increasing political participation amongst the people in Abeokuta-North LGA. It also will let us know if the media (Radio) has an effect on the mindset and perception of the people of Abeokuta-North LGA towards political issues in light of information gathered and their role as an electorate in determining their leaders.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study will look at Rock City FM Radio Abeokuta, Ogun State and the people in Abeokuta-North LGA as the primary reference of the study. Also it will focus are areas that concern radio station fulfilling its role as a social informant and also as the watch dog of the people in the electoral process. It will also look at how political discussion on programs being aired improves the political orientation of the people.
It will also seek to know the role of radio in reducing distrust in the electoral process, how it provides effective political education on the electoral process to encourage the residents of Abeokuta-North LGA in going out to vote on Election Day. Finally will seek to uncover how radio through its programs has encouraged and motivated political participation in the electoral process
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
- Politics: in this study refers to the process necessary to make binding policy decision for the community and to increase patronage in government activities.
- Media: refers to radio as a channel through which government, institutions, and political interest groups communicate with the citizens of a nation.
- 3. Political Mobilization: refers to the process of becoming attentive and active towards the political demand of the nation ensuring they take part in political activities, as electorate in exercising their rights to vote making awareness for the need participate actively and fully in the electoral process.
- 4. Political Participation: This refers is participation of people in selecting their leaders by participating in the election process of selection.
- Radio Programs: This are the on air programs on politic during the electoral period of 2015.
- 6. Electoral Process: Refers to the seasonal exercise of the selecting and voting in leaders into government office and positions necessary to the sustenance of democracy and political awareness.