THE PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE NIGERIAN MEDIA INDUSTRY
ONWORDI ONOCHIE PATRICK
Media entrepreneurship is a phenomenon that has begun attracting practitioners, scholars and enthusiasts alike. This comes as a result of an established link between entrepreneurship and unemployment. These scholars and professionals have advocated entrepreneurship as one of the ways of tackling unemployment which is rapidly rising (Amodu, 2016).
As technology seems to improve and enhance media operations, business-minded individuals – entrepreneurs - are latching on the opportunities the media has brought their way to further their business goals and objectives. As successful stories have emerged from the practice of media entrepreneurship, there have also been challenges media entrepreneurs encounter in the harsh and unfavourable conditions of the Nigerian economy leading to the inevitable closure of some media ventures. In his article, Owolabi, (2013) reveals that some newspapers tend to discontinue their operations due to the hostile Nigerian environment. He further notes that the Nigeria media will most likely have a hard time contributing to the development of the nation given the situation of things.
This write-up, therefore, draws attention to the developing patterns of media entrepreneurship in Nigeria. It looks at how media entrepreneurs fare in the Nigerian environment, the trials they face as they run their operations, and also looks at what the future holds for aspiring entrepreneurs who would want to carve a niche in the media industry.
DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS:
There are several ways in which entrepreneurship can be defined. It is the process by which new ventures create productive and profitable value. This value is as a result of innovative ideas and problem-solving which attract compensation or rewards (Azu, c2017). Ossai (2012) describes entrepreneurship as the bringing together of groundbreaking ideas and organisational skills combining money, people and resources- the factors of production- for the sole purpose of meeting a particular need and creating wealth. It can be deduced that entrepreneurship is concerned with the creation of wealth through the creation of values. Buttressing the previous statement, Duru (2011) notes that entrepreneurship goes beyond making money or owning a business; rather it involves taking calculated risks while employing the factors of production in order to meet the needs of humans and also create wealth.
Media refers to the different sources through which information can be passed to an audience. They are the channels used to carry communicate thoughts, information and knowledge to individuals (Haruna & Ibrahim, 2014). The common media channels include Electronic media (radio, television and internet) and print media (books, newspapers and magazines). The media has become so important in the lives of people in the society such that they depend on the media to provide information about issues that affect their daily lives. Awofadeju (2014) highlights societal concerns, politics, news, entertainment as information that the public derives from the media.
According to Hoag (2005), media entrepreneurship involves the adding of innovation to the media marketplace through operations carried out when establishing or owning an organisation or small venture. The media entrepreneurs play a fundamental role in the operations of such venture or organisation. He acts as the visionary that sees, explores and evaluates various opportunities in the media space. According to Khajeheian (2017), media entrepreneurs ground their operations on the existing needs of the media market. This fuels their quest to satisfy such needs leading to value creation.
MEDIA ENTREPRENEURSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
The extensiveness of the media industry creates various avenues for niches to be carved out and opportunities to be realised. In his article Awofadeju (2014) highlights the following entrepreneurship opportunities in the media industry:
• Fashion photography
• Television and radio production
• Journalism/TV reporting
• Event management
• Public relations
• Event management
• Internet Journalism(Blogging)
• Digital marketing
BREIF HISTORY OF THE NIGERIAN MEDIA
The origin of mass media in Nigeria can be traced back to the missionary activities in the country. Anglican missionary Rev. Henry Townsend established the first newspaper called IWE IRIHIN IN 1859. The birth of the newspaper was at Abeokuta His goal was to bring into the Yoruba people, the Christian religion (Owolabi, 2013). As there was an increase in the literacy level of Nigerians the press grew bigger. Okwuchukwu(2014) notes that Nigeria had 51 newspapers founded by some Nigerians such as Herbert Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe as at 1937.
1957 saw the establishment of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation which was mainly used for the British colonial government's agenda. Two years later, west Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation launched its radio and television broadcasts. The North and South East also established their media and subsequently, licences were issued to 12 newly created states to setup their television and radio stations. By 1992, private individuals were given licence to own broadcast media. This was as a result of the National Broadcasting Commission set up under General Ibrahim Babaginda's regime (Owolabi, 2013).
The year 1999, saw Nigeria embrace democracy like other African countries. Coincidentally this was the era of technological breakthroughs around the world in the media industry as well as other industries. Ifeduba, (2013) notes that advancements in technology coupled with the fact that Nigeria became under a democratic rule, encouraged advances in the media sphere which in turn, encourage entrepreneurship opportunities in that space. With the advent of the internet and new media, entrepreneurs leverage on these new features to be more productive and innovative in their operations.
It is seen from history, that media entrepreneurs have had a part to play in the economic growth of Nigeria.
CHALLENGES MEDIA ENTREPRENEURS FACE
As mentioned earlier, there are factors in the Nigerian economic environment that pose a threat to good media entrepreneurial practices. Some are highlighted below:
GOVERNMENT MEDIA CONTROL:
At different instances all over the world, the media has been problematic for governments. This is no different in the Nigerian scene. Okwuchukwu (2014) notes that the Nigerian government at different times have put it in place policies that limit the liberty of the Nigerian press. Oppressive laws have been passed to weaken the powers of the media practitioners. In some cases journalists are either beaten or murdered. For instance, with the use of the publications (proscription) Decree July 1993, the government of Nigeria shut 17 magazines and newspapers down.
Another source of media control is through the regulatory bodies established by the government. For instance National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has the authority to withdraw the licenses of stations which do not operate in conformity with the code and in the interest of the public. Without giving any proper clarification by the decree as to what the public interest entails, the commission can rescind any license at will.
THE CHALLENGE OF UNDERFUNDING
The establishment of a media outlets can be capital intensive. The acquisition of equipment needed to for business operations requires large sum of money to be pumped in. Coupled with the fact that there is poor infrastructure such as unstable power supply, most business need their own source of power. This means an entrepreneur will have to factor in things like generator, internet expenses etc.
Putting all these into consideration, an entrepreneur may need to be funded from financial institutions. As noted by Awofadeju (2014), banks impose unfavourable conditions for granting loans which some entrepreneurs cannot meet. Another reason why banks run away from media investment, is because it takes a long time for returns to be realised which comes along with a lot of risks. Such harsh treatment reduces the chance of a media outlet surviving.
POOR TRANSPORTATION SYSYTEM
The transportation system is appalling. Most highroads linking two states together are inaccessible. These dilapidated roads slow the productivity. For instance, an advertising agency having to shoot a commercial at different Nigerian states and to travel by road may have their production delayed due to the bad roads which can cause traffic.
For media entrepreneurship opportunities that revolve around the internet such as social media management, digital marketing etc, the onus is on these social media entrepreneurs to equip themselves with the necessary computer and IT skills. Unfortunately, many individuals who want leverage on the internet for their media enterprise are at a disadvantage due to their lack of understanding or awareness on how such platforms are used to grow a business.
PROSPECTS OF MEDIA ENTREPRRENEURSHIP
In order to for the success of these entrepreneurship endeavours, all of these problems should be addressed. Despite the challenges faced, there have been efforts made in order to make the Nigerian environment conducive enough for media entrepreneurs. Adeyemi, Biodun & Semiu, (2014) highlight the following:
PRIVATISATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE OF NIGERIA BROADCAST INDUSTRY
By commercializing the broadcast industries under the Babaginda administration, the electronic media (NTA, NAN, and FRCN) came to be fully business inclined and started generating maximum funds. These privatised public-owned media are able to make profit by covering events for private and public organizations.
THE USE OF INTERNET TECHNOLOGY BY JOURNALISTS
As mentioned earlier, the advent of democracy to Nigeria brought about internet technology which has helped journalists perform their operations better. Reporters now know how to source for rich information through the use of these internet and computer facilities.
PROMOTION OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP PRACTICE IN JOURNALISM
Graduates with the zeal for media now follow a career path in media practice. These individuals strive for independence by designing programme after which, they search for sponsors to air their work on radio or television stations. They purchase airtime in order to broadcast their programmes on air. They reach out to corporate bodies for advertising in order to keep these programs running. These media entrepreneurs form associations in which they operate. Some of these operations are listed below:
• Independent Marketing Association of Nigeria (I.M.A.N)
• Freelance Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (F.I.B.A.N)
• Music Association of Nigeria (M.A.N)
• Voice Over Association of Nigeria (V.O.A.N)
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