1.1 Background to the Study
The programmes department of the broadcast media is saddled with the responsibility of initiating and presenting programmes that revolve around the functions of the mass media. Some of the functions of the mass media as can be recalled are surveillance, education, correlation of facts, transmission of cultural heritage, socialization, sensitization, entertainment among others (Omelukor, Olley and Nwankwo, 2015).
It is the duty of the mass media to educate its audience on issues affecting the environment. Environment according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is;
“The complex of physical, chemical and biotic factors (as climate, soil and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival”
Due to the global interconnectedness, environmental issues have become important in the world for decades. This has propelled national governments as well as the United Nations to take steps in increasing the awareness and attention paid to environmental issues such as pollution (water, land, air), desertification, greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, climate change and others. These environmental issues have necessitated a number of summits, conferences, conventions and declarations.
The Rio declaration on environmental is one such example adopted by 178 nations at the United Nations conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, popularly known as Earth Summit. Principle 22 underlines the crucial role of indigenous people and their communities which should be enabled to participate effectively in the achievement of sustainable development (www.unep.org/documents/default.asp). This participation by the indigenous people and their communities is greatly affected by the people’s community’s perception. As recorded on the Guardian Newspaper on 25th November 2014, a twitter handle @garwboy reads, climate change is an obvious myth-how much more evidence do you need? With this strong perception about climate change an environmental issue, the environmental programmes on climate change would have a very minimal or no reception by this audience.
The chapter 36 of the Earth Summit devoted to education states that “education is critical for promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of people to address environment and development issues. The media have a greater role in promoting environmental education (Kushuwa, 2015). Early studies by Harold Lasswell, Paul Lazarsfield and others seemed to show that media effects are indeed direct and powerful; this is known as the hypodermic model of influence. The story has changed as more intensive research revealed that mass communications are mediated in complex ways and that their effects on the audience depend on factors such as class, social context, values, beliefs, emotional state and even the time of day, this can broadly be classified as perception (http://ww.encyclopedia.com).
Perception is the processing, interpreting, selecting and organizing of information. Perception’s effect on the communication process is all about how the same message can be interpreted differently by different people. Although environmental problems which pose as a threat in this present day as well as the future of humanity can be brought to people’s notice by the media, this message can greatly be affected by the people’s perception. Audience perception towards a programme/message can affect the message positively or negatively.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The media through some studies are revealed to have created awareness on environmental issues. Solomon, Ifeanyi and Onyekachi (2012) in their study on the influence of the mass media on public understanding of climate change (an environmental issue) found out that the Nigerian public has not been significantly influenced by Nigerian mass media reports. Therefore, this study seeks to find out audience perception on environmental programmes, to know if perception has caused the insignificant influence.
More specifically, since the study is carried out in Delta State, a state in Niger Delta region, a study: mass media and environmental sustainability of the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria (Izuogu and Umoren, 2017) posit that Niger Deltans are aware of environmental issues of the area however this awareness has not led the audience to take the cautionary measures, the research thus want to find out if the delay to taking actions is caused by their perception.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are;
- To know the perception of Asaba viewers on environmental programmes
- To determine what extent audience perception affect environmental programmes
- To know the relationship between audience perception and programmes on environment
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the perception of Asaba viewers on environmental programmes?
- To what extent does audience perception affect environmental programmes?
- What is the relationship between audience perception and environmental programmes?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Lee (2009) noted that a man’s actions and inactions are usually informed by the media portrayal. But perception has a greater effect on media content this refers us to selective perception. Selective perception is the process by which individuals perceive what they want in media messages while ignoring opposing viewpoints.
As earlier noted on Guardian Newspaper, the perception of the audience with twitter handle @garwboy who strongly believes that climate change is a myth would totally ignore message on environmental programme concerning climate change. This study thus becomes important because knowing the audience perception on environmental programmes would help the media re-strategize.
This study is significant to individuals because it helps them to be aware of their environment in order to cultivate a healthy living. This research would be of great use for further or related study on viewers perception on environmental programme. And to the government, this study will help initiate strategies of making the environment safe and habitable.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The research centres on residents in Asaba, Delta State. There are six axis in the state capital. These are Asaba, Oko, Okwe, Illah, Ebu and Eze. Their responses would be elicited in the course of this research.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Audience: This refer to a group of people who watch, read or listen to something. They are also known as assembled spectators or listeners.
Environment: The complex of physical, chemical and biotic factors (as climate, soil and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determines its form and survival.
Environmental Programmes: These refer to messages designed to give information on the environment. Examples of such programmes are Earthfile on Channels T.V., Green Angle on T.V.C etc.
Perception: This is the way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted.