Radio: Primary Source of Information in Nigeria; Critical Tool for Promoting Diversity, Gender Equality, Peace & Development

Abuja, Nigeria. February 13th, 2018 – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Radio Day is observed on 13th February annually. The day aims to improve international cooperation between broadcasters, and to encourage major networks as well as minor radio communities to promote public access to information and freedom of expression. The main theme for 2018 is “Radio and Sports” and this is further divided into three sub-themes; “Diversity in Sports Coverage”, which highlights how radio can promote diversity in sports through coverage of “traditional” and grassroots games enabling people to “reconnect” with their cultural heritage. Secondly, “Gender Equality in Sports Coverage”, focuses on the role of sports coverage in shaping stereotypes and norms about gender and how radio may have the ability to promote a balanced coverage of men and women’s sports. Finally, the third sub-theme, “Peace and Development through Sports Coverage”, puts emphasis on the ways sports coverage can promote peace and development initiatives, values of non-violence as well as solidarity and tolerance.[1] 

In the light of this, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, speaking during the lead up to this year’s celebration stated that radio reaches the widest audience in the world and that in an era of dramatic advances in communications, radio has retained its power to entertain, educate, inform and inspire. He further stated that radio can unite and empower communities and give voice to the marginalized as well as recognizing the many ways in which sports broadcasting brings people together in excitement and hopes for achievements.[2] 

In commemoration of the 2018 World Radio Day, NOIPolls reflects on findings from its past poll on sources of information for Nigerians conducted in August 2017, which highlighted radio (50 percent) as the most important source of information amongst other sources, as seen in the chart below. From time past, radio has been known to be a critical tool for information disemmination and communication; playing a major role in the development of the nation, especially in the rural areas. Moreover, it is popular as a result of its wide reach to a heterogeneous audience; and it remains the most appropriate for a rural population (56 percent) mainly due to cost and accessibility by an audience with varying levels of literacy. 

The upswing of new media (commonly known as social media), boosted by advanced information technology devices and increasing internet penetration was expected to bring the reign of radio as the most common source of information to an end. While the trended chart below highlighted a dramatic increase in the use of social media from 2007 to 2015, radio still remained the main source of information in Nigeria. In 2015, radio declined by a significant 24-points when compared to 2013, nevertheless, it remained the most common source of information within that period and in recent data. 

In line with the findings above and the theme for the 2018 day, radio stations in Nigeria can act as a medium for promoting diversity, gender equality as well as peace and development through coverage of international and grassroots traditional sports; that connect Nigerians across all regions particularly in rural areas. The emphasis on sports in the 2018 theme is no surprise, as sports ordinarily include a far-reaching and inclusive spectrum of activities suitable to people of all ages and capabilities. Besides its participatory and inclusive nature, it has the distinctive influence to attract, mobilize and inspire people from diverse background. 

Furthermore, the essential values of sports such as teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful co-existence. An example of a sports peacebuilding initiative is the annual football tournament for local youth football clubs and high schools in Kano, the Channels National Kids Cup and the NNPC/Shell Cup which constantly aims to unite and make people of diverse background understand and appreciate each other's beliefs, values and way of life better thereby promoting tolerance and a peaceful Nigeria. 

In the area of gender equality in sports, while there has been some social change in women’s participation in sports over the years as a result of education and international relations, there still exists some level of discrimination in the participation of women in sports in Nigeria and this can be seen in the poor coverage of women sporting activities and poor recognition of female sports team and stars.[3] For instance, the 2017 season of the Nigerian Women Premier League (NWPF), the highest division for female football in Nigeria which began on 25th March 2017 was never televised as the League Management Company (LMC) failed to secure television rights. On the contrary, the male league, Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) was televised as LMC secured a television rights deal worth $34 million with satellite broadcaster Supersports.[4] The high coverage of women sports through radio can go a long way in reshaping the narrative for women’s participation in sports thereby emphasising the need for equal opportunity for Nigerian women and men in sports. 

Finally, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to improve on fundamental freedoms, and promote public access to information in Nigeria which encourages good governance and the rule of law; in countering discrimination, radio can provide an accessible and real-time medium to bridge divides and strengthen dialogue. This year’s UNESCO commemoration is a call for greater participation of audiences and communities in Nigeria in the policy and planning of radio broadcasting. More than simple on-air interaction, public participation should include processes such as audience engagement policies, listener forums and complaints resolution procedures. UNESCO invites all radio stations and supporting organisations to join in the 2018 celebration, a chance to strengthen diversity, peace and development through sports broadcasting. 

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published. 

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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[1] https://planeta.com/world-radio-day-2018/

[2] https://radioinfo.com.au/news/radio-reaches-widest-audience-world-un-secretary-general

[3] https://guardian.ng/sport/nigeria-can-win-world-cup-if-women-are-treated-fairly-says-onome-ebi/

[4] http://venturesafrica.com/nigeria-football-league-gets-34m-tv-rights-deal/