Establishment Of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA)
The Nigerian Television Authority, or otherwise called NTA, is a Nigerian government-owned and a partly commercial broadcaster. It is originally known as Nigerian Television (NTV). It was inaugurated in 1977 with a monopoly on national television broadcasting after a takeover of regional television stations by military governmental authorities back in 1976, after declining interest from the public in government-influenced programming and its monopoly over television broadcasting in Nigeria in the 1990s.
The NTA runs the largest television network in Nigeria, with stations in several parts of the country. It is widely viewed as the “authentic voice” of the Nigerian government.
Early Broadcast Stations In Nigeria
The first television station in Nigeria was the Western Nigerian Government Broadcasting Corporation (WNTV), and it began broadcasting on the 31st of October 1959. Its first Chairman was Olapade Obisesan, a lawyer trained in the United Kingdom and the son of Akinpelu Obisesan, an Ibadan socialite and the first president of the Cooperative Bank of Nigeria.
Vincent Maduka, a former engineer, was the General Manager. It was based in Ibadan, making it the first broadcast station in tropical Africa, although more northern parts of Africa already had television stations.
Back in March 1962, Radio-Television Kaduna/Radio Kaduna Television (RKTV) was established. It was based in Kaduna and was also operated by the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria. This implied that RKTV would provide coverage for the central northern states. Later in 1977, it was re-branded NTV-Kaduna.
Meanwhile, In April 1962, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was established as a federal government-owned service based in Lagos, broadcasting to the southwestern states. MidWest TV was also established in 1972 as a TV broadcaster of Port Harcourt, and the state government ran it in Benin.
Benue-Plateau Television Corporation (BPTV) joined the established stations in 1974 with its headquarters in Jos. It was the first television station to launch regular/permanent colour broadcasts in Africa. The colour test transmissions began on 1 October 1975. BPTV was later re-branded as NTV-Jos.
However, NTA was then founded in 1977. By May 1977, all the state television broadcasters listed above were merged and re-branded as Nigerian Television (NTV) and owned by the Nigerian Television Authority. Obisesan and Makuda continued in the roles of Chairman and General Manager of NTA. As of 1979, NTA had reached about 20% of the Nigerian population.
News Programs On NTA
News programming was central to NTA, and it was the government’s efforts to ensure national unity. The network had ensured that news presenters did not simply read prepared scripts but acted as part of the newsgathering team. As many early news writers came from print journalism, NTA made sure that writers understood the importance of writing for visual presentation.
NTA introduced a new line of newscasters and reporters such as Ronke Ayuba, John Momoh, Cyril Stober, Bimbo Oloyede, Ruth Opia, Sienne Allwell-Brown Sola Omole. There were also specialized news programmes just like Frank Olise’s Newsline, which was also introduced. NTA aired the major news programmes at the Network News at Nine, a 5-minute News in Brief at 5:00 pm, and a 15-minute News-cap at 11:00 pm.
However, In the 1990s, NTA had joined other state-owned stations in commercializing some aspects of news reporting by including festivals, social events, cultural and business activities in the news or as part of a news programme in return for the payment of a fee.
Meanwhile, NTA’s news mostly reports on government activities. The major news production is Network News, an hour-long programme that usually airs at 9:00 pm Monday-Friday except on Wednesdays when it is replaced with News Extra. Network News usually starts with news from the presidency, then news from the National Assembly, and ministries and state governments.
The 9 pm news programme on NTA has one of the network’s highest advertising rates for a 30-second ad. Paid news segments such as ‘News of Special Interest’ are inserted into network broadcast news such as Newsline or the 9 pm network news.
NTA Centres and Branches
As of 2014, NTA had up to 101 stations in state capitals and towns of Nigeria, nine of which are network centres. The network centres mostly derive from Nigeria’s early broadcast stations and are located at Ibadan, Jos, Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, Benin, Makurdi, Maiduguri Sokoto.
Some Criticism of NTA
NTA is partially funded through a state subvention. Also, NTA has faced criticism that the content it covers is influenced by government and politicians. This interference is said to diminish the professionalism of newscasters on NTA.
The NTA has been criticized by performing artists such as Becky Umeh for allegedly pressuring her and other artists to align their expression with government propaganda goals. In an editorial on 18 October 2009, the Lagos newspaper The Guardian stated that “the federal government-owned television network, the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA) is arguably the largest of its type in Africa, but it is yet to have the operational freedom required to maximize its potential.”
It has also been suggested that the proliferation of NTA stations in every state capital is not useful for broadcasting but is driven by political reasons. The network has also been criticized for using antiquated technology.