Explaining the methodology used, GeoPoll said its audience measurement data looked at viewership in half-hour intervals, to see what days and times were most popular. The report further noted that the most popular time for television watching in Nigeria stayed consistent over all three months: 6pm, the start of prime-time evening viewership, and when nightly news shows aired, usually between 9pm and 11pm.
Commenting on the GeoPoll report that scored NTA high in terms of popularity and viewership, NTA’s first director-general, Vincent Maduka, who occupied the position between 1977 and 1982, attributed this to its wide reach, noting that there are transmitting and modest content facilities in practically each local government area in the country.
Maduka said: “When I was in NTA, it was a monopoly. But it is no longer a monopoly due to the liberalisation of broadcasting in Nigeria in the 1990s, which gave birth to privately owned television stations such as AIT, Silverbird and Channels Television. NTA itself has also passed through changes during this period and now has over 36 stations across the country. This makes NTA the largest network not only in Nigeria but also in Africa.”
Maduka, who added that NTA has invested a lot in modern equipment over the years to remain relevant in the dynamic world of television broadcasting, said it is striving hard to give its viewers high-quality programmes.
He said: “One of the key success factors in broadcasting is to identify and go after your niche. If you are commercial, you go after buying power. For instance, those who watch Channels Television have higher buying power than those who watch NTA. NTA’s brief is social. It goes after numbers because it is funded by the public.
“Nevertheless NTA should produce the best programmes for the elite, the middle class and the villagers. At the same time, viewers, particularly the elite and the middle class, must find something in NTA that is better than others. NTA should have the best news coverage, documentary and drama. The liberalisation of television broadcasting has helped put NTA on its toes. Interestingly, the masses form the bulk of NTA viewers, while Channels, AIT and the other private television stations in Lagos primarily cater for the elite and other consumer spenders.”
NTA gave rise to Nollywood
Reacting to the widely held notion that NTA is the mouthpiece of the government, Maduka, who is currently a lecturer at the School of Media and Communication of the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, said this is quite untrue. He pointed out that a television station without credibility cannot hope to succeed, adding that the main challenge for NTA is to be sensitive to the aspirations of those in power without compromising the ethics of the broadcasting profession.
He said: “While politicians demand that NTA serve as their mouthpiece, the NTA should strive to remain credible, otherwise they become irrelevant as a media organisation.”
Also reacting to the growing influence of Africa Magic among television viewers in Nigeria, Maduka said NTA itself created Nollywood, which debuted in 1993, by giving it a platform to reach Nigerians. He said most of the prominent Nollywood producers in the country are products of NTA.
Maduka, who took a retrospective look at the evolution of NTA, said it has come a long way since television broadcasting started in Ibadan, which is located in southwest Nigeria, on 31st October 1959. The Ibadan station was reportedly the first television station in Africa. He said the challenge for NTA going forward is to continue to produce quality programmes that appeal to all strata of its viewers both within and outside the country. Newsline, one of the flagship programmes of the NTA, is very popular among Nigerians and advertisers because of its focus on human-angle stories.