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History Of Broadcasting In Nigeria

Broadcasting is an essential act of sending out information through TV or radio stations to a huge audience. The concept of broadcasting primarily covers radio and TV channels but many observers have asserted that newspapers also serve as realistic platforms through which information can be transmitted to a massive audience of readers. 

Nigeria’s history of broadcasting dates from the 18th century when “Iwe Iroyin fun Awon Egba ati Yoruba’’ was introduced in the former Southern Protectorate of the country. In discussing Nigeria’s history of broadcasting, it is important to discriminate between the origins of the three commonest broadcasting mediums being the newspapers, TV, and radio stations. Therefore, this article has been designed to discuss the history of broadcasting in Nigeria beginning from the evolution of newspapers to the emergence of TV stations. { not forgetting social media}.

Brief History Of Broadcasting In Nigeria

  • The Evolution of Newspapers

It is no longer news that newspapers emerged as the first formal medium of broadcasting in Nigeria. In 1859, “Iwe Iroyin fun Awon Egba ati Yoruba” [translated in English as “A Newspaper for the Egba’s and the Yoruba’s”] became the foremost newspaper to be launched in Nigeria. Introduced by Christian missionary Reverend Henry Townsend, the newspaper was aimed at instituting a literacy scheme for the Egba’s and the Yoruba people. The earliest editions of the newspaper were predominantly read by Nigerian dignitaries most especially in the present-day South West of Nigeria.

History Of Broadcasting In Nigeria
History Of Broadcasting In Nigeria

With the advent of “Iwe Iroyin”, Nigerians were stimulated to launch more newspapers and this idea has buttressed the continual existence of the newspaper industry in Nigeria. Following the footsteps of “Iwe Iroyin”, some of the prominent newspapers that emerged included:

  • The Lagos Standard
  • Lagos Time and Gold Coast Advertiser
  • Nigerian Tribune
  • Lagos Weekly Record
  • The West African Pilot
  • Anglo-African
  • African Messenger

The emergence of the aforementioned newspapers contributed immensely to the history of broadcasting in Nigeria. Moreover, they triggered many Nigerians to engage in journalism and this clearly gave a good deal of journalists the grace to uphold activism and nationalism by kicking against British colonialism. Significantly, freedom fighters and nationalists began to emerge and newspapers served as great avenues for them to oppose British colonialists.

Herbert Macaulay pioneered nationalism in Nigeria and he was regarded as one of the foremost nationalistic writers in the country. Some of the other Nigerian writers who blazed a trail in freedom fighting against colonial rule included:

  • Nnamdi Azikiwe
  • Anthony Enahoro
  • Obafemi Awolowo
  • Mokwugo Okoye
  • Ernest Ikoli
  • Dutse Muhammed Ali

Each of the writers above was a great freedom fighter whose struggle contributed to Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Upon gaining independence from British colonialism, Nigeria welcomed a new generation of journalism. At the time, TV broadcasting was beginning to gain grounds in Nigeria and some of the aforementioned newspapers soon metamorphosed into TV stations including NBC, WNRC, and WNTV.

One of the major challenges encountered by the Nigerian press was the pressure coming from those in authority. Years after independence, the press was not granted absolute freedom to speak against rulers. This affected many individuals, especially those who felt they could use the press as an avenue for speaking against the Nigerian government. To deny the press absolute freedom, the Nigerian government-controlled broadcasting and its monopolization of the media discouraged individuals from writing against it.

  • The Evolution of Radio Broadcasting

1933 marked the beginning of radio broadcasting in Nigeria with Lagos being the site of the foremost RDS (Radio Distribution System). Under the control of the Department of Post and Telegraphs, the radio system was designed majorly to function as a reception base for the British Broadcasting Corporation. About two years after its establishment, the radio system had its name modified into Radio Diffusion System. In the course of World War II [1939 – 1945], the radio system served broadcasting purposes.

In 1939, precisely 6 years after the first radio system, another radio system known as Ibadan Station was established. 1950 marked the first real inception of NBS (Nigerian Broadcasting System) in Nigeria and this gave the country a significant level of radio broadcasting. At the time, the broadcasting services of the NBS spanned across several Nigerian cities including:

  • Ibadan
  • Enugu
  • Lagos
  • Kaduna
  • Kano

Going by the provisions of the Bill of the House of Representatives, 1956 marked Nigeria’s attainment of its first broadcasting corporation. After many years, the establishment of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria came about and in the early 1990s, the country established its first external radio service named the “Voice of Nigeria’’.

  • The Evolution of TV Broadcasting

Television broadcasting seems to be the most cherished medium of broadcasting in Nigeria. Its history can be traced back to the late 1950s when the former Western Region launched Nigeria’s foremost TV signal. Precisely, 1959 marked the beginning of television broadcasting in Nigeria with Western Nigerian Television being the first TV station established in the country.

With the intent of providing an avenue for regional schools lacking adequate teaching staff, the former Western Region set up the Western Nigerian Television. Following the footsteps of the Western Regional government, the Eastern Regional government set up its television broadcasting system with the primary aim of promoting formal education within its jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the said broadcasting system was created in 1960.

Only two years after the move by the Eastern Regional government, the Northern Regional government launched its TV broadcasting system with the intent of promoting education within its jurisdiction. Established in 1962, the TV system was given the name “Radio Television Kaduna”.

At the start of the operation, all the three regional TV systems stuck with their primary objectives but in later years, each of them was eventually commercialized. TV stations in Nigeria operated under the governance of the Nigerian Federal Government until 1992. This monopolization of TV stations by the Federal Government was abolished through the creation of the National Broadcasting Commission as per provisions of Decree number 38. In reality, this marked a significant change in Nigeria’s broadcasting history as private individuals were granted the freedom to own Media and TV broadcasting systems.

  • The Evolution of the Internet in Nigeria

The internet is obviously one of the popularly used broadcasting mediums in Nigeria. It is not as popular as either of TV and radio broadcasting mediums but it remains a relevant broadcasting medium in the country. In Nigeria, the evolution of the internet can be traced back to the mid-1990s. Considered the lowest-developing broadcasting medium in Nigeria, the internet has remained operative in Nigeria since 1996. Over the years, more than 40 certified internet service companies have been established in Nigeria.

Modern Broadcasting in Nigeria

Without doubts, Nigeria is in the trend of modern broadcasting as practiced in many parts of the world. Digital technology has integrated the idea of broadcasting and Nigeria is not lagging behind in exploiting the benefits associated with this. No learned person would doubt the fact that digital technology has made it possible for people to enjoy broadcasting regardless of where they are in the world. Today, information travels rapidly across media platforms like TV, radio, and newspapers.

The rapid growth of modern technology has facilitated the spread of TV channels and radio stations. Interestingly, Nigeria is not excluded from the countries that have taken the advantage of modern technology to improve broadcasting.

Over the years, Nigeria’s broadcasting industry has grown massively with a plethora of media channels like daily newspapers, TV systems and radio stations. Today, radio stations are found in every of Nigeria’s 36 States. Reports from reliable sources imply that there are more than 60 radio stations in Nigeria with some States having multiple radio stations. More than 20 of these radio stations are under private ownership while 40 are owned by the government. International transmission is obviously one of the exciting features of modern broadcasting and Nigerians have been gaining access to it since 2007.

TV broadcasting is considered the most popular aspect of broadcasting in Nigeria and there is barely a Nigerian household –especially in cities –where you won’t find at least one TV set. In Nigeria, TV broadcasting is much more admired than radio broadcasting and there are a significant number of TV channels in the country. About 70 of Nigeria’s entire TV channels are owned by the Nigerian government while a considerable number of other TV channels are under private ownership. Also noteworthy is that Nigerians have been gaining access to satellite subscriptions since 2007.

Some of the prominent privately-owned TV channels in Nigeria are Silverbird Television, AIT (Africa Independent Television), and Channels Television. The most popular government-owned radio station is Federal Radio Corporation while the most popular TV counterpart is the Nigerian Television Authority.

That’s all about the History Of Broadcasting In Nigeria


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