Prior to the revolution of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the television, radio and print media had been the main source of mass communication. The development of mass media in Nigeria dates back to 1970 with the print media being the first having a coverage of about 45% with more penetration in the urban areas. The radio soon followed having a more widely reached audience though the availability of the radio at earlier stages was low and in 1990 then came the emergence of the television having a captivating attention with accessibility to only the elites. The traditional mass media in the 1990’s did play roles more in politics and information dissemination rather than a social or economic function. The use of the telephone not until recent was not considered a form of mass media due to the traditional “one-to-one” communication pattern. The 20th century brought about a revolution in mass media with the internet and the mobile phone becoming a major form of mass communication with an overriding effect on the traditional mass media. The advancement of the ICT has led to development which transcends beyond communication itself but also to sectors such as education, banking & finance, transportation, health, business hence having an overall effect of the politics, social aspects and economy of nations.
Mass media arose to serve the link between information and the audience with a potential of a societal-wide reach, hence information being available to more people at different geographical location more rapidly and at the same time. The early Mass Media (newspaper, magazines, phonogram, cinema, radio and television), has developed to become an integral part of the society; with an increasingly impact in modern society, in the spheres of politics, culture, daily social life and economics (McQuail’ 2010). The ICT (Information and Communication Technology) revolution of the 21st century brought about a new form of mass media “the internet and mobile communication” shifting discourse away from the traditional mass media. The internet and mobile communication, also referred to as the “new mass media” especially gained attention due to it’s even more wider potential of disseminating information across the globe in real time. We now live in an era described as the network society (Castells 2007) in which information is transferred through a network of interconnected people and in which the media has become a social space where power is decided.
This paper aims to discuss the role of the new mass media "internet and mobile communication" in the social, political and economic development of Nigeria. although it may be intuitively assumed that the advent of the internet and mobile communication would have led to positive developmental process in Nigeria, an in-depth analysis of such development across different structures is however important in other to (1) theoretically/empirically see/test development achieved due to the ICT revolution and also being aware of potential demerits in Nigeria (2) see reasons to embark on policies aimed at improving the ICT sector as one possible solution to Nigeria’s socio-economic and political problems. Researches in this perspective; though with different focus has been applied to China, Finland, Korea (Jin qui 2011, Pekka Räsänen 2004, Je Ho Cheong, Myeong-Cheol Park, (2005)) in the past and I believe Nigeria as a developing country with high media consumption should follow suit.
In other to achieve the purpose of this paper I will embark on a comparative theoretical analysis of the role of the major traditional mass media (print media, television, radio) and the “new mass media” (internet and mobile communication). In the first part I will start with analyzing the “traditional mass media” using the Hallin and Machini model in which they identified four media systems dimensions. It should be noted that Hallin and Machini’s model is aimed at analyzing different media types specifically in Western Europe and fitting different media systems into typologies such as “liberal model, democratic corporalist model or polarized pluralist model. However, I only use the four dimensions (development of media market, political parallelism, journalistic professionalism and degree of state intervention in the media) they identified to explain the traditional mass media in Nigeria. This is because the dimensions help gives a theoretical analysis as to the political and socio-economic impact of the traditional mass media and on a normative level help identify weaknesses in the traditional mass media systems in Nigeria. I hypothesize that the traditional mass media has had little impact in social and economic developmental process in Nigeria and has mainly being a political tool by elites which uses the media as propaganda and a means of achieving self interest. If this is true, I hope to identify factors responsible for the low impact of traditional mass media.
In the second part I will give brief information on the development of the new mass media “internet and mobile communication” and analyze in relation to Nigeria current discourse on the ICT revolution: digital divide and network society. Subsequently I shall focus on the role of internet and mobile communication in economic and social-political development of Nigeria. My objective here is to answer to the research questions (1) Has the new mass media (internet and mobile phone) led to development in the Social, Political and Economy of Nigeria?, if yes (2) what are the measures that the government and the people need to put in place for advancement of the ICT sector?. My second hypothesis is that the internet has brought about developmental process in Nigeria; hence I shall identify factors which hinder the growth of the internet and mobile communication and suggest possible interventions for the promotion of the internet and mobile communication as a possible development driver.
Traditional Mass Media Systems in Nigeria
Nigeria gained independence from the British control in 1960 and adopted a new constitution as a democratic republic country. Her independence was soon followed by series of military rule, civil wars, religious tensions all which had its negative toll on the country Nigeria being the most populous Africa country with a population of about 160 million is divided across ethnicity and languages. Even as the country aims at sustaining democracy which has been fairly stable in the last 15 years with 2 relatively free and fair democratic transitions; the country still battles with religious crises, notably from the religious sect Boko Haram which has claimed responsibility for several bombings in the country.
Development of Media Market- Hallin and Machini’s Model
(Hallin & Machini, 2010) assessed the development of media market in western countries which they analyzed, stressing the importance of strong or weak development of a mass circulation press, newspaper readership, audience and the role of the media in social and political communication
Development of media marker in Nigeria
Printing press in Nigeria began in the 19th century through Christian missionaries who had intensions of converting Nigerians from traditional religion and African socio-cultural practices to Christianity. The first newspaper called "Iwe iroyin fun awon ara egha ati Yoruba ("newspaper of the Egbas and Yorubas") was in 1859 with publication every two weeks. It was printed in one of the indigenous languages "Yoruba" and English with its content mainly being religious activities, births, deaths and some political activities. The Daily times of Nigeria plc was incorporated on 6th June 1925 as the Nigerian Printing & Publishing Company and started printing on June 1, 1926 with the publication title “The Nigerian Daily Times". Today, there are more than 100 national and local press titles, some of them state-owned. They include well-respected dailies, tabloids and publications which champion ethnic interests. (chris w. ogbondah 1985)
Radio broadcasting started in Nigeria by the then British Colonial authorities in 1933. One of its main tasks was to relay the overseas service of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) through wired systems with loudspeakers. This service was called Radio Diffusion System (RDS).
The Radio Diffusion System (RDS) became the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) in April 1951. By 1957, the RDS also underwent a name change and became the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). By 1978, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation was re-organized to become the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). Till present time, the radio remains the main source of information with various state run and privately owned radio station. (Olu Ladele 1979)
Television broadcasting was launched on October 31, 1959 through the initiative of the first Western Region Premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo . The western Region Government commenced operations in partnership with British Media Company and a western Nigeria Radiovision Service Limited was created with the obligation of managing radio and television broadcasting in the western region. In 1978 the Federal Government of Nigeria took over all television services and stations where made to beam network programs. After deregulation of the broadcast industry in 1992, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was founded to monitor and regulate broadcasting on a national basis. Today the Nigeria Broadcast industry reaches over 100million listeners broadcasting in about 15 languages. (Olu Ladele 1979)