IMPACT OF DIGITALIZATION ON BROADCAST MEDIA WITH A CURSORY LOOK AT NIGERIAN TELEVISION AUTHORITY BENIN

Abstract

 

Digitalization therefore involves the representation of an analogue signal, object, sound, image, document among others by a discreet set of zeroes and ones. Negroponte cited by Dominick refers to the process as a phenomenon in which atoms give way to bits. He explains that: “traditionally, the mass media delivered information in the form of atoms: books, newspapers, magazines, CDs, and DVD’s are material products that have weight and size and are physically distributed. The study adopted Mediamorphis theory. this study make use of survey research method. The total population of NTA Benin is estimate to house over 36 staff from the different section of the station such as, news and current affair, programme, Finance/accounting, marketing, and engineering department.The sample size for the study was made up of 36 subjects drawn from the above mention department in NTA Benin in Benin City where the signals of these stations are received. Purposive sampling was used to select the sample size. Structured questionnaire was used to gather the data from the field. The study concluded that digital broadcasting have impacted on their station in the area of better audience satisfaction. Funding to procure more sophisticated digital equipment is one of the way to achieve a better or full digitalization of your station, digitalization although is a welcome development in the media industries though its affected by myriad problems and inadequate funding is one of the major challenges currently facing Nigeria. The study therefore recommended that media professional should be proficiently trained on content generation, processing, storage and transmission. This is belive to enlighten them (journalist) on how to focus on the quality of the content and programs, broadcast engineers will need to be well versed in digital television transmission principles, as the modern technology will create a greater demand on their expertise and digital broadcasting equipment such as electronic news gathering equipment (ENG), news and programs processing equipment, teleprompter cameras, recording equipment and other devices will be needed to replace analog communication equipment. Hence there should be enough funding and a supportive environment that aid the procurement of sophisticated digital equipment.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

Digitization is a broad concept used in discourse on various types of media (print and electronic). It is used to denote a process involving the processing of information supplied and scored in the form of binary digits. In tandem with this, Dominick defines digital technology as a system that encodes information – sound, text, data, graphics, video – into a series of on-and off pulses that are usually denoted as zero and ones [3, p.65]. Once digitized, the information can easily be duplicated and transported at extremely low costs. Digitalization therefore involves the representation of an analogue signal, object, sound, image, document among others by a discreet set of zeroes and ones. Negroponte cited by Dominick refers to the process as a phenomenon in which atoms give way to bits. He explains that: “traditionally, the mass media delivered information in the form of atoms: books, newspapers, magazines, CDs, and DVD’s are material products that have weight and size and are physically distributed […] This is rapidly changing [as] the slow human handling of most information in the form of recorded music, books, magazines, newspapers and videocassettes is about to become the instantaneous transfer of electronic data that move at the speed of light. In short, atoms give way to bits”.

Indeed, whether technology comes in leaps and bounds or creeps, the fact remains that everything animate and inanimate is subject to change. The world of broadcasting from its cradle to the modern form is merely having its own share of the world dynamics. The world is being gradually reduced to a global village even in Nigeria, through broadcasting.

According to Onabajo (2000), broadcasting has been defined as the transmission of information through radio waves from a radio or television station, to the audience in far and near places, through their receivers, which help in decoding such information. Similarly, broadcasting can also be defined as the dissemination of information by an organisation by an organisation (radio or television) to a large widely dispersed heterogeneous audience through their radio or television receiver.

The phenomenon has brought about remarkable changes in the way and manner information is gathered, processed and disseminated. Krishnan, (2013) capture this in his words:

The advent of the digital technologies has meant not only a qualitative leap in the production and distribution tools used by the media but has also benefited users in particular, as they have become active agents in the communication circuit”.

For example, people can communicate in real-time with others in different countries using technologies such as instant messaging, videoconferencing etc. Social networking websites like face book allow users from all over the world to remain in contact and communicate on a regular basis. Prior to the advent of ICT, crude methods were used in communication; so also the machines were analogue in nature that have limited effects as far as efficient information dissemination is concerned. With this development, proper acquisition and utilization of ICT becomes imperative to individuals, organizations, governments and nations so as to be part and parcel of the “Global Village” (Samaila, 2013).

It should be noted that the changes that are taking place within the established and emerging media of communication systems are only initiated by technological innovations (new production technology, new information delivery and interaction systems, new consumer devices) but they are (still) governed by “social and economic factors and especially by general changes in the consumers' use of media” (Teljas et al., 2007: 6). The society is often faced with discourse of technological determinism, as if technology is by imposing itself upon the society by itself, and new media and technologies are no exceptions. However, there are numerous and pervasive ways in which a society has a profound influence upon its media, which in the end become the products of political, legal, and other social forces, and it is these forces “that determined which technologies survived and how they were developed into media systems” (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1988: 329). These social and economic factors, as well as consumers' use of media, therefore influence or define the limits of choice also in the application, use and success of new technologies and media. One of the main development in the media and technologies in the beginning of 21st century is the introduction of digitisation and digital television.

The term digitization is a broad term spanning the media industry including the prints and the electronic media. It is the representation of an object, image, sound, document, or a signal usually an analog signal by a discreet set of its points or sample the result of these processes are digital representation, digital image for an object and digital form for a signal. To a Mass Communicator author and expert, McQuail (2000:28) the process of digitization having immense significance to the computing ideals as it "allows information of all kinds in all formats to be carried with the same efficiency and also intermingled". By inference therefore, digitization for the broadcasting media will enhance audio and visual quality.

From a different perspective, Digitalization will also refer to an enhanced viewers experience through for instance: Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), sub-titling, additional language options, and interactive services such as weather and news reports (Wikipedia 2013). Nancy Hicks Maynard (2010) described digitalization as “a mega media”, whereby the much about the ways we define, gather and produce news will have to change.

The Nigerian broadcasting industry is currently undergoing a quiet revolution. It is all about the ongoing transition from analogue to digital technology. Digitization is a technological innovation that will change the scope of radio and television broadcasting in this country and beyond. In line with the transition process, the International Telecommunication Union, ITU, in the Regional Radio communications Conference, RRC ‘06, held in 2006, set a deadline for a total switchover of all broadcast channels from analogue to digital. The body set June 17, 2015 for all UHF channels to have gone digital. It also set the digitization of all VHF channels for 2020 (Aihe, 2008).

In response to that deadline, Nigeria has set June 17, 2012 as its switchover date which is three years ahead of the global deadline (Ocholi, 2009). Some concerns say Nigeria is on the fast and right track while some others say “Nigeria’s digital broadcast migration as a mirage” if certain measures are not taken by government and stakeholders (Ocholi, 2009).

Regardless of the above positions, Nigerian broadcasting industry must go digital with other countries. Even if the 2012 peg is not realized, the country must not be left behind when the whole world must have switched over to digital system in 2015. It would amount to Nigeria being turned to a dumping ground for obsolete analogue equipment. It was based on the above premise that Ocholi (2009) says: The NBC spokesperson said: “The truth of the matter is that television and radio stations do not have a choice. Nobody has a choice. If we do not migrate from analogue to digital, we will end up being in the dark. It is in everybody’s interest to migrate”... if Nigeria does not want to be left behind, it has to follow the rest of the world. (p.4)

The digital broadcasting has many advantages over the analogue. Programme presentation would be well improved by the time analogue is over. These are true in terms of clarity and quality of signals and spectrum efficiency. Ocholi (2009) argues that: Since technology has opened a world of possibilities for broadcasting, a huge spectrum will be available for radio and television broadcast in the country. As a result, more frequencies or wavelengths will be available for television stations in the country. It will also afford the industry opportunities for interactive broadcasting as the television sets would now do much more than receive signals.

In fact, “digital television signals in particular are clearer and stronger in their audio and video output” (Ocholi, 2009). It is worthy of note that television sets would perform the tasks of computers and telephone handsets, under digital technology. This implies that, TV sets would be able to provide access to the internet. It would also be able to store data from received audio and visual signals. In essence, the ephemeral nature of the broadcast media would have been reduced, if not eradicated. The broadcast media would begin to have catalogue value. On the side of broadcasters, digital broadcasting equipment will enable the simultaneous transmission of a minimum of four programmes and four channels from the same station that used to transmit only one programme or channel in the analogue transmission. Moreover, according to Ocholi (2009) “digital television offers variety of added services such as multimedia, banking, home shopping and faster rates of data transmission (casting).”

Digitization of broadcasting by way of definition, is the digital production, reproduction and the distribution of works  through free, paid download, streaming services, websites and social media (Poort et al.2013). According to Jenkins (2006), digitization is a flow of content across multiple  media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries and the migratory  behavior of media audiences. Video production can be duplicated in mass quantities onto  DVDs for distribution.

Digitization, as it important to note has an implication, either negative or positive on the broadcast or television station. The introduction of digitisation which supposedly offers greater choice of channels will increase the demand for content for these channels. One of the questions that occur is who will provide this content and how will supply follow the increase in the media content demand. The increase in the demand for media content will also put additional pressure on content producers, including journalists and editors.

There is an important question whether this increase in the media offer is sufficiently covered by media resources and personnel. But the first question is whether the question of content was adequately approached and raised in the first place, or was the introduction of digital television seen as technological process and issue, without consequences for content and producers, including journalists and editors.

A careful look at the current situation suggests that both private and public own media are migrating and embracing digitalization of their television stating although others are yet to fully assume digital standard. ITV Benin is one of such broadcasting station which have embrace the concept of digital broadcasting in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission approved Channel 42 UHF for Independent Television to transmit its programmes in the Federal Capital Territory. The license was presented to the investor, the Esama of Benin Kingdom on 17th of December 1999.

ITV Abuja started transmission on 1st September, 2007. At inception, Independent Television was a contributor to Cable News Network CNN and other popular international broadcast Stations. Recently, Independent Television/Radio was granted license for Digital Satellite broadcasting in December 2009, to enable the Station to beam its television programmes to viewers around the world.

This preceded the acquisition of State of the Art digital ultra high-tech virtual studios equipment including high definition cameras, teleprompters, virtual studio components, complete digital studio lightening systems and digital sound console.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

There is no gain saying that digital broadcasting has exceptional benefits which cover information gathering, processing, storage, retrieval and transmission among others that will indeed revolutionize the entire broadcasting industry.

Digital technology is transforming both broadcasting and (as a result of convergence) the larger world of communications. For the broadcast industry, world over, this is the most important transformation since its beginnings almost a century ago. The basis for this transformation lies in the digitalization of the broadcast signals carried over the main transmission platforms: cable, satellite and the terrestrial broadcasting network.

Through digitization, the capacity of communication channels are greatly expanded, there is more scope for consumer choice and more possibilities for interactive system" (Kombol, 2008, p. 6). Furthermore, digitization considerably improves the quality of voice and video transmission and economic efficiency is enhanced because conversion to digital forms of storage, editing and retrieval also saves time and labor this major impact will not only profit the fourth estate of the realm (media industry) but also the consumer of media products (media audience) in Nigerian at large. It is against this knowledge that this study tend to investigate the impact of digitalization on broadcast media with a cursory look at Nigerian Television Authority Benin.

.1.3      Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. To ascertain the impact of digital broadcasting on Nigerian Television Broadcasting (NTA) Benin 
  2. To know the perception of broadcast media professionals toward digital broadcasting
  3. To determine the benefits of digitalization to the broadcast audience
  4. To find out the challenges digitalization poses for Nigerian Television Authority, Benin

1.4       Research Questions

This study will be guided by the following research questions;

  1. What is the impact of digital broadcasting on Nigerian Television Broadcasting (NTA) Benin? 
  2. What is the perception of broadcast media professionals toward digital broadcasting?
  3. What are the benefits of digitalization to the broadcast audience?
  4. What are the challenges digitalization poses for Nigerian Television Authority, Benin?

1.5       Scope of Study

The study would be directed at broadcast media and particularly, Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA) Benin, Edo State.  Brief statement on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Benin

The Nigerian television authority also known as NTA was inaugurates in 1977 and is the Federal Government owned body in charge of television broadcasting in the country. The NTA claims to run the biggest television network in Africa with stations in several parts of Nigeria.

Formally known as the Nigeria television (NTV), the network began with the takeover of regional television stations in 1976 by the then Nigerian military authorities, and is widely viewed as the authentic voice of the Nigeria government. The NTA have several network centres which house other stations and the Benin network happens to be one them.

NTA Benin of the Nigeria television authority was established in 1973 by the government of General S.O. Ogbemudia of the Mid-western state of Nigeria. It had four transmitters then strategically located to cover the entire state (Now Edo and Delta state).

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study is deemed significant in many dimensions:

~       This study will be relevant as it will contribute to the growing body of knowledge regarding digitalization of the media industry in Nigeria as well as stimulate further research in this area of study.

~       The study would enable the researcher to understand how media practitioners view the current change in the media industry as they affect their practices and operations in the broadcasting industry in Nigeria and how they are adjusting to it.

~       The study will enlighten media owners and media practitioners on the  relevance, benefits and opportunity that this new digital technology brings as well as the need to accept and effectively utilize them for optimum service.

~       This study will does not only aim at contribute to knowledge and also provide a foundational basis for further studies into the need for understanding the impact of  digitalization on broadcast industry and mass media practice.

1.7       Limitation of the Study

In every research there is always problems and limitations encountered.   one of the limitations of the study is finance. This is because as a student, the researcher depends on parents for financial assistance another limitation is the fact that some respondents might give me wrong information when it is time for data collection.

Also time was a major constraint to the study, the researcher was faced with the task of conducting this study, attending lectures, writing assignment and studying for examination, and several other activities within this brief period assigned to carry out the study, assignment to carry out the study.

1.8       Definition of Terms

Analogue System: Study of devices that function without or using numbers.

Broadcast: Primary means by which information and entertainment are delivered to the public in virtually every nation around the world. The term broadcasting refers to the airborne transmission of electromagnetic audio signals (radio) or audio-visual (television) that are accessible to a wide population via standard, readily available receivers

Digital System: Electronic process used in telecommunications for transforming a constantly varying (analogue) signal into one composed of discrete units, a digital signal.

Technology: General term for the process by which human beings fashion tools and machines to increase the control and understanding of the material environment.

Television: System of sending and receiving pictures and sound by means of electronic signals transmitted through wires and optical fibers or by electromagnetic radiation.

Digitalization: is the integration of digital technologies into everyday life by the digitization of everything that can be digitized. The literal meaning of digitalization gives an apparent idea of development and technology dependent world

Digital Television (DTV): Is the sending and receiving of moving images and sound by discrete (digital) signals, in contrast to the analogue signals used by analogue TV.

Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV): A set of digital television (DPI) standards with 480 lines of resolution. All EDTV formats are progressive scaft (48Op) and provides a sharper picture than SDTV (Standard Definition TV), but not as good as HDTV (High Definition TV). EDTV sets have screens with the traditional 4:3 aspect ratio (more square) rather than wide screen 16:9.

High Definition TV (HDTV): A set of digital television (DTV) standards that offered the highest resolution and sharpest picture. Although some HDTV sets are available in standard (rather square) screen sizes, the overwhelming majority of screen, which eliminates most or all of the letterbox effect when watching movies delivered in their original wide format.

Programmes: A listing of the order of events and other pertinent information for a public presentation.

Terrestrial Television: Signals received through a conventional aerial.

Transition: Passage from one form, state, style or place to another.

UHF (Ultra High Frequency): Radio waves with frequencies that run between three hundred million (300,000,000) and three trillion Hertz (3,000,000,000Hz).

VHF (Very High Frequency): Is the radio frequency ‘range from 30MHz to 300MHz.

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