Saturday, 3rd June 2023

‘Campus radio must be socially-responsible’

By Margaret Mwantok and Sunday Aikulola
21 April 2020   |   3:53 am
As more campus radio stations continue to spring up in the country, a professor of journalism and mass communication, Ralph Akinfeleye, has insisted that campus radio must not be a PR tool

As more campus radio stations continue to spring up in the country, a professor of journalism and mass communication, Ralph Akinfeleye, has insisted that campus radio must not be a PR tool of the school management but must be socially responsible.

At the recent commissioning of Bayero University Campus radio station, BUK FM 98.9, the academic told The Guardian that campus radio must remain the training organ for the students of mass communication and other related disciplines such as creative arts, law, engineering, English Language and many others.

Akinfeleye, who delivered a paper entitled, ‘From Nothing casting to Narrowcasting and now Digital Broadcasting: The metamorphosis of Campus Broadcasting in Nigeria’, noted, “the genesis of campus broadcasting in Nigeria began in the 1970s but became more rigorous in the 1980s (precisely 1980) while National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was established in 1992 after the Badagry National Conference on Communication Policy – Powered by Prince Tony Momoh, the then Minister of Information and Culture. The UNILAG Initiative – Mass Communication department pioneered the struggle, followed by other universities, including but not limited to BUK, UNN, UNIMAID, LASU and many more.

He said that during the nothing casting era, nearly all departments of mass communication were offering degrees in communication studies without broadcasting radio studios. In short, they were mainly casting nothing to themselves.

According to him, “the narrowcasting era came after nothing casting era. This time the mass communication departments engaged in the procurement of mini box transmission within their mass communication buildings such as offices of staff and classrooms were furnished with voice boxes from small wire connections to the studio-like-arrangement – they were narrowcasting to themselves.

“Then the digital broadcasting era, currently the majority of mass communication departments now have digital studios where they now broadcast professionally. This is one of them that we are commissioning today, BUK 98.9FM whose flagship is Broadcasting for Innovation and Development. It has added value to the new era of digital broadcasting on our campuses.”

He said Unilag Radio 103.1FM is the first university radio in Nigeria and was birthed in 2004 even though it got broadcast licence in 2002, under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.

The second campus TV licence was recently granted to Bayero University, Kano again, under the Buhari’s administration.

While congratulating President Buhari, he called on him to authorise the approval of other pending campus Radio/TV applications on the table of the NBC.

On the major challenges of campus radio/TV in Nigeria, he noted that It took Unilag 25 years to get a radio licence, but because of the success story of Unilag Radio, the licence to other universities and polytechnics did not take 25 years. It took two years to be assigned frequency by the NCC, hence the delay to 2004 for Unilag Radio.

Other challenges, he said, include “huge cost of licensing fees (N1 million for campus radio), renewable every five years with the same amount, lack of availability of broadcast spectrum in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and so on, was given as part of the long delay for approval, the problem of over-regulation by NBC, the long delay before NBC gives approval, which makes it appear as if NBC is trying to be a ‘Media Trader’ rather than a ‘Media Regulator’; not granting permission for limited advertising to support the running of campus radio stations; unending complaints by the commercial radio stations against campus stations. They see campus radio stations as competitors buying-in-to their limited advertising revenue in their localities; lack of proper relationship management between the regulator NBC and campus radio stations.

The campus radio station is not competing with the commercial radio station, so let the commercial radio stations in Kano factor this into their agenda and make BUK FM 98.9 a loyal partner in the media advertising; huge cost of campus TV licensing – i.e. (N10 million for TV); low coverage areas – forgetting that some universities and polytechnics have more than one campus. The main campus and the second or third campuses; the problem of low powered radio station not ideal for campus radio station where the university has more than one campus.

He advised that campus radio stations should be managed by a managing board to be appointed by the vice-chancellor with membership from the school of communication, one from the regulatory body – (NBC), one from the professional organisation such as – Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), a lawyer from the faculty of law, one member from the faculty of engineering, one member of the office of vice-chancellor, one from the office of the university bursar, at least two from outside the university of which one must be a female (preferably from the University Alumni Association).

He added that the stations must employ an experienced media person as the managing director, with not less than five years of broadcast practice. Must allow the mass communication students populate the station. Must have well equipped and modern studio facilities; must open its doors for media attachment – interns (IT) for students from other mass communication departments in Nigeria – Unilag is already doing this and I am sure that many campus radio stations are also doing it.

According to him, “The life of the managing board should not be more than four years and renewable for another one term of four years and no more. Must obey the rules and regulations of the Nigerian broadcasting code at all times. Engage in sports – announcement/and/or limited advertising.”