Friday, January 11, 2008


I am often opportune to watch the prime time 9’0 clock NTA news online, sometimes days or week after the broadcast through the Nigeria Direct website. I have so far enjoyed the much missed NTA news. I say “much missed” because NTA news used to be a must watch for everyone in my household growing up in Ilesha, Osun State Nigeria in the 1980s.

So it was so refreshing to have an opportunity to watch NTA again albeit days after live broadcast. I have however noticed a few things that bothered me from watching the web re-broadcast.

One is the so called new innovation of having news casters in every region. The most awkward moments is when they seek to “transfer the baton” to each other. The transition to say the least is tragic, sometimes with loss of sound and video. My question is must they use this format if they do not have the technology to back it up? Why is it even necessary? What is wrong with reporter’s video or live linkage during the news? Like every idea imported from abroad with little or no thoughts to its implementation they ended up making mockery of the whole idea; hence the one hour news slot barely had 45 minutes of real news.

I have also take time to watch “the NTA news” from January 4 to January 10, 2008 and what I found astounded me. Most days, they usually have between 8 to 12 news items. I discovered that half of such news item is about NTA news itself. It is as if they are the news. The other half which usually comes out within the first 10 minutes of the broadcast is all about activities of President Yar’Adua and other government ministers.

Strangely no in-depth analysis of any such news; for instance the news about the Yar’Adua meeting with some traditional chiefs from Niger Delta made no single reference to the ongoing struggles by militants groups such as MEND et al. It is as if the Niger Delta region is in relative piece. If you are a Nigerian from the Niger Delta you probably had to either tune in to BBC or go online to find out the latest.

In the 1980s, NTA used to devote important segments to analyze news and go into extensive report on the causes and consequences of events and crises in the nation. Professors like Akinyemi, Alaba Ogunsanwo and workers activist and unionist such as Comrade Adamu Oshiomole et al were well known for their incisive commentaries on NTA. Today’s NTA is bereft of such commentaries. All they have now is glorified government propaganda. There is not even a slight pretense of objectivity; they parrot federal government official’s propaganda without shame.

The other part of the news cast I found nauseating is the “falsetto accent voice” of its broadcasters and newscasters. Gone are the days of Donald Ovberedjo and John Momoh. Today’s NTA news casters are desperate in their attempt to sound more “Cockney” than the Queen and thus they ended up making a parody of themselves. You have a population with a peculiar English accent and yet you speak in an accent 95 percent of your populations don’t speak. None of the subject of their news report sound any way like the news casters on NTA. The folly in their forced accent is brought to the fore during one of the news item on NTA itself where they had to interview one of the news casters who are now a station manager. You could barely distinguish his accent now from the time when he used to “pretend speak” on NTA news at 9.

I believe NTA is a reflection of the rot in our social institution where merits have been sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity. The new mantra in NTA now is their attempt to conquer Africa, nay the world through their “new” satellite acquisition. How they are going to do that with the mediocre programming they have is beyond me.

I think the solution is to liberalize NTA, government has no business owning news media, and it has never worked and will never work. The existing NTA stations should either be auctioned off to the highest bidder or given to Nigerian university with mass communication department. We can have a public broadcasting service through these college owned and university operated broadcast medium.

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