The Role of Radio and Television in Rural Development

The Role of Radio and Television in Rural Development
The Role of Radio and Television in Rural Development

The Role of Radio and Television in Rural Development





Rural development is the precursor to overall national development in a country like Nigeria whose most land area is characterized as rural village giving shelter to majority of its population. The rural dwellers are the producers of agricultural resources of the nations (Ifukor, 2013). Rural development aims at building the capacity of its population to control their surrounding environment which is full of natural resources, and the predominant entity that has been identified as the key issue for rural development is information. Information is any message or news, viewed or read or told verbally which add to knowledge, awareness or understanding of some topics, or events, problems that prepares one for uncertainty of life (Ifukor, 2013).

At present, as we all know, the creation of information society or knowledge based society is getting impetus among all development activities of a nation. The emergence of information and knowledge society is a significant intervention with the potential to ensure that both are very important for achieving meaningful development. The relevance of this revolution is supported by Balit (1996) who pointed out that the least expensive input for rural development is knowledge. Radio and Television has been considered as the important media for information dissemination and a tool of teaching.

The terms rural radio and television and community radio have come to be used interchangeably to describe FM stations established to broadcast to a local and predominantly rural audience. The growth of rural radio and television stations over the past few decades reflects both the improvements in information technologies and the shifting development paradigm towards a more participatory style of information and knowledge transfer. The ‘community’ aspect of local radio and television initiatives combines a number of approaches. The most obvious is that a local radio or television station gives the community a voice and by encouraging the active participation of the audience in the making and scheduling of programs this voice can play an empowering and potentially uniting function.

The community focus can also serve another function: by employing members of the community both as station staff, such as radio and television presenters, correspondents and program facilitators or animators, and as intellectual resources, for example providing program material and content. This not only reinforces the participatory nature of the development approach but ensures local ownership and a greater chance of sustainability. Therefore, although the terms rural and community are used interchangeably it is the community element which has been a deliberate focus of many initiatives to ensure that the stations are run not only for the community but by the community. Rural radio and television has other elements: a development focus and an elevated cost per listener compared with urban stations which often make subsidy inevitable.

This work is designed to study how rural dwellers utilize radio in comparison with television message to effect social change. Other communication channels, like the inter personal communication, traditional communication or what Frank Ugboajab called (Oramedia), newspaper and magazines are not quite effective as the radio and television especially in the much desired rural development. Those who found fault in the face – to – face communication and oramedia, did so due the lack of persuasion and inadequate coverage characteristics of them. For the newspaper and magazine, the high level of illiteracy prevalent in the rural areas constitute an impediment to the messages since the illiterate ruralite cannot read and even when the messages are coded or written in his own language.

The Role of Radio and Television in Rural Development

To further establish the inadequacies of the oramedia, Ikechukwu E. Nwosu (1990) in his article “An overview of the Relationship Between Communication and Rural/National Development” in mass communication and National Development (ed), said that “The problem in employing these media of traditional communication as potent instrument of development communication lies more in the area of changing the attitude of the communicators, policy makers and researchers toward them. We also need to improve the level of massage storage, retrieval and replicability among these oramedia forms. It lies more in expanding our understanding of their functions, nature, content and uses, and may be coming up with standard technical vocabulary for describing its various forms in our various communities”.

The radio and television in this regard, are the most effective means of reaching the rural dwellers, and to effect social and development changes in these neglected or totally forgetten rural areas.

To Nzam Community in Anambra West Local Government area, in Anambra state, radio set are more easily affordable – hence found in most homes. Even in the rice farm’s, yam farm, in the river fishing, an Nzam man is seen with his transistor radio, conscious to get the giot of the day from his favourite radio station who is ever-ready to broadcast in his language of understanding.

Television sets, on the other hand, are owned by some well-to-do individuals, whet her literate or illiterate. Though Nzam community is characterized by non-availability of electricity those that own the television sets, make use of the electric generating plants, and chargeable batteries to operate the sets.                  

Therefore, to this community, television ownership is not confined to literate class, as illiterate but well-to-do villagers own television as luxury, capable of providing relaxation from the stresses of the daily life.

No doubt, in his “mass media organisation and management” lecture, Nnamdi Okewa of the development of mass communication E.S.U.T. Enugu, maintain that:

Most Yoruba purchase television sets not just for the luxury of it, but for the sake of Babasala’s drama, which provides an excellent comic relief to the Yoruba man after his activities during the day”.   

This study compares radio and television messages as agent of rural development of Nzam community in Anambra.

Previous researchers in this field, confined themselves to the study of urban and rural dwellers in terms of media exposure. But this research aims at specifically finding out which of the two mass media of communication – radio or television is mostly used by the Nzam Community in Anambra, in obtaining development information. We also intend to study the two media in the daily life of this rural people. We also, will find out whether the community embarked on any rural development project, and what roles the radio played as against the audio – visional – television.

In mobilization, this study found out the role played by radio based on the ban placed on importation of foreign products eg Textile, Can Foods, Flour, Sugar, Foreign Shoes etc as it affected the unabilitants of Nzam as compared to television.

It is quite undisputable that rural development as a socio-economic phenomenon is not a new as the current emphasis on it portrays. It is as old as the rural communities themselves. These communities have no doubt recorded some degree of development in the past; but to what extent and through which means?

The rate of development have been so slow it they either been unnoticed or neglected or decades. This unfortunate situation unabatedly could be attributed to lack of suitable mess media.

With the availability of more sophisticated and well directed mass media, like radio and television the ruralities, especially Nzam community, now sings a different tune of music that tune is rural development.

The rural man is not raw as we think, however, he may not understand what he is doing if he is not adequately informed and persuaded. He wants to hear from the authentic medium (radio), and see it done through the television, especially in his native language. It is thus not a sure that the rural man rushers to his or set whenever and wherever he hear his village pronounced on the radio.

The Role of Radio and Television in Rural Development

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Though technological development has delved many gadgets to get information, radio and television still can play effective role in disseminating information to the rural people. This is because comprising sound and sight it has gained the ability to draw the attention of too many viewers regardless of their literacy or illiteracy (Nazari, 2001).

In a traditional African Society, communities undertook various form of development projects, these projects includes village hall, construction of access roads to farm – settlements, neighbouring villages and towns, and other traditional project.

Added to this aforementioned projects are the provision of good drinking water, building of modern school, cottage hospitals, and health centres, post offices and even modern markets and electrification project.

More often the execution of such projects depend on effective leadership of the town and village heads (chief) and available resources of the community, and their level of awareness.

However, in the present circumstances, communities are beginning to be exposed to different influences of development. Government project are not found at every nook and cranny in different rural communities. This is to say that our government have regarded these hardworking rurlaities as isolated or totally forgotten, especially as the government faces austere or harsh economic realities.

Although, electricity supply does not exist in Nzam community, the well-to-do individuals in this community make use of electric generating plants for their television sets, while others make use of chargeable motor batteries to that effect. To this community, television ownership is not confined to literate class, as illiterate but well-to-do villagers own television as luxury goods. Therefore, the community has exceeded the UNESCO’s, mark of 2 television receivers per 50 inhabitants.

In the usual village life, children and adults visit the homes of television owners to watch the latest in the days program. This helps them to relax their nerves after the days farming activities and other jobs. To those who cannot go to the homes of the well-to-do individuals or that of their relatives that has the television sets, the story of each days comes to them on second hand basis. To them, the much desired satisfaction and influenced in not there.

On the other hand, the radio transistor is relatively low in cost, appears in various sizes and broadcasts in the language under-stand able to the community. Radio transistor is found in 1 of every 5 inhabitants of Nzam community. Therefore, the radio has become to a great number of Nzam people, a household property and companion. Companion in the sense that while the rice farmer does his tilling and planting, he has a transistor radio by his side providing him with information, jokes and important government announcements. He is also doing that in expectation that one of his relatives or friend could send a request programme to him through the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) radio AM or FM. The “Ogeolu Ugbo” or “Oge Omen a ani” Igbo programmes of ABS and Minaj Radio respectively are some of such numerous entertainment programmes that farmers does not want to miss, therefore he carries along the transistor radio to the farm. (The Role of Radio and Television in Rural Development)

The questions that might then basked or arise are:

  1. Are the Radio messages more effective in rural development for the rural dwellers?
  2. Are the audience of radio larger than those of television rural communities?
  3. Are the radio and television stations directing their programmes towards rural development?
  4. What is the attitude of rural dwellers to people towards radio and TV programming?
  5. What is the level of the ruralities involvement in radio and television programme?
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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.