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INTERACTIVE BROADCAST PROGRAMMES AS A MEANS OF PUBLIC OPINION SURVEY IN ENUGU METROPOLIS

Project topic for Mass Communication department.

CHAPTER ONE

                         INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

            The two operative words in the title of this study are “interactive programmes” and “Public Opinion Survey”. It is essential to understand and determine the relationship between the two so as to be able to grasp the subject matter of this project. Leigh (1994:84). Identifies that “the aim of an interactive is to allow democratic expression of views and to create the possibility of community action”.

            There can be the possibility of a community action without a coalition of expressed views.

            Hence, we can see interactive as a means of democratic expression of views, and public opinion surveys as the act of collecting and analyzing the expressed views. So the relationship is there and the difference is clear.

This project explains the foregoings in details with a deliberate bias on this instrument for gathering public opinion called interactive programmes, to determine its validity, reliability and to explore the likely potentials. Interactive could have in a world where democracy is making public opinion survey a sine qua non for a coordinal human co-existence embedded in the art of communication is the act of sharing. This idea connotes the sharing of idea, experiences, attitudes, opinion etc.

            Communication, no matter at what level it takes place it is inevitable. This is why Colin Chery (1957) succinctly puts communication as “essentially a social affair”. It is impossible, according to him not to communicate. “By doing noting, we communicate but negatively-we are still part of the interaction”. If anything is inferable form the above, man is naturally a communication being. Also, if silence could mean something else, it becomes essential that man must master the art of communication so as to be able to use it for his own benefit. Right from the primitive age even to this age of the electronic man, people have been exchanging “whatever” through this process called communication. The question is why is this process inevitable or compulsory as it is? The answer might be nearby too. Among the functions of communication as enumerated by Colin Chery are these two essential ones:

Expression: To express one’s feelings or put oneself over in a particular way.

Stimulation: To respond to something of interest.

            Interestly, public opinion emanates from the most basic form of communication which is intra-personal communication. This is communication that takes place within a person. Opinion researchers posit that public opinion undergoes three different process of formation and consolidation. The rudimentary and the first stage is when an idea pops up in the mind because of an occurrence which has been observed. This happens within a person, so it is intra-personal communication. At this stage, public opinion presents itself when a sentiment rises spontaneously in the mind and flows from the lips of an average man or woman upon seeing or hearing something done. The second stage is when two or more individual members of the public begin to perceive things along the same line and to agree until their opinions appear to crystallize into a solid mass. The third stage is when controversies begin (that is debate). An additional fourth stage could be when actions become inevitable.

            Now, if communication is natural to man, and men are learning to master the art of their benefit, then opinion polls become an avenue for practicing the expression of opinion consensus, which in a democratic setting benefits the majority. Public opinion itself is a veritable tool especially in the hands of the progressives/opposition because it can be used to make or mar the government of the day. This explains why various democratic governments, corporate bodies and even individuals dare not joke with public opinion or the opinion of their respective publics as the case may be. At this juncture, the means through which public opinion is surveyed becomes as important as the public opinion itself. If they are inefficient, there products can be no better. Instances abound where the inefficiency or the deliberate manipulations of the means of public opinions survey such as interviews, referenda, questionnaires etc has marred such exercises.

            Interactive programmes in the broadcast media have also come to be seen as a means through which public opinion on public issues can be surveyed even on a more instantaneous way over transitional boundaries. This is especially true in this stage of digitalization when the media audience are becoming more active than ever before in their use of the cable, mass media (the cable TVs such as the DSTV lend credence to this fact). In their “A Dictionary of mass communication and media studies”, James Watson and Anne Hill penned:

                        The almost obsessive use of opinion

                        polls in recent times will be accelerated

                        by interactive television: Instant referendums

on vital matters could become standard

practice, even more interestingly that at

present, TV would be the central Focus

of election campaigns – what has been

termed electronic democracy would have

come of age.

            Here lies a tremendous opportunity, with a tremendous likelihood of bastardizations and manipulations. Since interactive could pass as the fastest means of public opinion survey, its manipulation can also easily pass unnoticed. The inherent advantages of interactive as a means of public opinion survey are enormous. One can easily call from his comfortable bed room or while he / she is relating in their sitting room call – in to express their opinions on serious issues. This makes the process of expressing the opinion and the process of gathering the opinions by the media audience and the media respectively very easy. interactive, because of their private nature, might also reduce the role of intervening variables such as the opinion leaders in influencing individual’s opinion thereby ensuring that public opinion itself is representative of opinion of the majority, not an altered one.

            However, added to the issues raised by the research questions of this study are other concerns about interactive programmes. For instance, Robert Leish (1994:32) wonders “to what extent do interactive exclude those listeners without a telephone? “What of those with telephone but without airtime? There is also the fact that during interactive only the voice is available while elements of feedback are lacking. This is a problem especially in our “developing world”.

Statement of the Research Problem

Broadcast interactive programme as a means of public opinion survey has been found to have tremendous effect in world at large like the CBN, BBC etc. In Nigeria also where the audiences are allowed to give feedback or express their opinions on issues has also been seen as a means of expressing the opinion on issues concerning them has seen to have tremendous effect. The researcher therefore what to find out the effects of this interactive broadcast programme as an instrument of public opinion survey in Enugu – Metropolis.

Purpose of the Study

The objective of this study is to determine the following.

How informed Enugu metropolis are aware about broadcast interactive programmes.

The level of participation of Enugu metropolis in interactive programmes.

The perception of the respondents about the use of interactive by the broadcast media.

Research Questions

These research questions give this study direction

How aware are Enugu metropolis about interactive programmes?

To what extent do Enugu metropolis actively participate in interactive programmes?

To what extent do Enugu metropolis perceive interactive as an effects tool for testing public opinions?

Do Enugu metropolis “see” interactive as broadcast time fillers?

Research Hypotheses

Hi:       The interactive broadcast programmes has serve as a great means of public opinion survey in Enugu metropolis.

Ho:       The interactive broadcast programmes has not serve as a great means of public opinion survey in Enugu metropolis.

H2:         There is a significant relationship between the level of participation of Enugu metropolis in interactive programmes.

Ho:       There is no significant relationship between the level of participation of Enugu metropolis in interactive programmes.

H3:       There is a high perception of the respondents about the use of interactive by the broadcast media.

Ho:       There is no high perception of the respondents about the use of interactive by the broadcast media.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This research work presents itself to the various broadcast media in Enugu and environs-where the findings of this study can be generalized as a free audience survey. They will find the result useful in their programme scheduling and planning.

This study will satisfy the curiosity of the likes of the researcher and furnish them with scientifically obtained data. This work will also build on the already existing literature on this topic-those researching like topics can find a ready help in this work. Furthermore, bearing in mind the cliché: “NO knowledge is a waste”, the researcher is optimistic that there could be unanticipated use of the research findings especially in an academic environment.

1.7       Definition of Terms

This terms will be defined operational

Broadcast Media: Radio and television as means of mass communication.

Interactive Programmes / interactive: Programmes on radio or television whereby listeners or viewers interactive to make comments.

Opinion: Ones feelings or thought about an issue, usually noticed when expressed.

Public: The members of a particular society.

Public Opinion: The opinion that holds way among the public at a particular time.

Opinion Poll / Survey: A situation whereby the media through various means such as interactive, try to determine the opinion of the public on important issues.

Communication: Any exchange of ideas, feelings, opinion, etc between or among persons through any means what so ever.

Mass Communication: A sophisticated way of communicating to/with a large, scattered and heterogeneous audience usually machine mediated.

Phone (Telephone): a Telecommunication device used by broadcast media audiences to contribute during interactive programmes.

Telecommunication: Communication form afar off or from a distance.

A Means: Any avenue used by the broadcast media to gather public opinion.

Issues: Those social, cultural, economic or political concerns or ideas which are at any given time considered important and which forms the basis for public opinion survey.

Consensus: That which is generally agreed. Here, seen as synonymous with public opinion.

Disensus: The opposite of consensus. That is, which is not generally agreed.

1.8       Assumption

            This study assume that interactive broadcast programme is an easy way of gathering the opinion of the public in any controversial issue that form the daily discussion in the society.

            Moreover, it is also assume, that if this study is completed it will create a very smooth path for all communications especially those at the broadcasting media. And the result will serve as a motivator to the opinion leaders.  

1.9       Scope / Limitation of the Study

The phenomenon being studied is not peculiar to Nigeria let alone Enugu Metropolis. It is international, but incapacitated by insufficient fund and time; the researcher is poised to limit the scope of this research work to Enugu. However, the choice of Enugu is informed by the researcher belief that the respondents being metropolis of a capital city with at least three radio and television stations in it should be better dispose to provide the information required for the research


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