Big Brother Naija: Is National Broadcasting Code Impotent?

Big Brother Naija: Is National Broadcasting Code Impotent?

By Mutiu Iyanda

The Big Brother Naija is a reality TV show, where a winner emerges having competed, avoided actions and attitudes capable of contributing to eviction by the viewers. At the end, the winner goes home with a large cash prize worth $100,000.  The show started in 2006 and produced in South Africa before being shifted to Nigeria after public criticism on the link between having a programme for Nigerian audience and shooting it in another country.

According to the Google, the world most used search engine, the programme has been liked by 90% of its users. This year’s edition has been understood and watched by Nigerians using YouTube, Image and News sections of the engine. Cross River, Osun, Delta, Rivers and Ogun were the leading states where people have developed a huge interest in the show within the last 7 days.

Source: Google, Infoprations Analysis, 2019

The Knocks and Kudos

From the 2006 edition to this year’s edition, mixed reactions have trailed and still trailing the programme. Many are yet to understand the link between the programme and moral development of the youths being targeted. Others believe that the programme is not bad as some sections of the Nigerian society portray it. To those who against the programme, it is characterised by alcoholism, nudity, sex, fun, entertainment and vulgarism, despite the MultiChoice’s announcement that the show would be for adult viewers only.

During one of the years of the criticism, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja asked: “said “what values are we transmitting to youths today, in a society where immorality and stupidity are rewarded with big prizes?

“We cannot continue to nurture a society that places a premium on iniquitous shows such as BBNaija and expect to groom a generation of cultured, disciplined and morally upright leaders. The promoters of this immoral show must ask themselves what they intend to make out of it; they must ask themselves what values and morals they are projecting to the larger Nigerian society. They must honestly answer if they’d be proud to gather their children in their living rooms at home and make them watch such a distasteful show.”

Dr Reuben Abati, the renowned media specialist, also said: “I was relieved because for about 70 days, the show was a big distraction, crass capitalism at its most cynical edge, a source of unmanageable madness in homes and on the street. MultiChoice, through its Big Brother Naija and Big Brother Africa franchises, seems committed to the promotion of base values, chiefly adultery, prostitution, love of money, nudity and sex.”

If Nigeria is a Village of 36 People

The criticism against the show this year has taken another dimension as a Nigerian started a petition campaign two days ago on change.org. As at the time of the analysis, over 8,000 Nigerians have signed the petition, calling on the Presidency to ban the programme. To further understand people’s reactions towards the show, a scenario of Nigeria being a village of 36 people was created using audience reviews and public interest about the show in the last 7 days.

Analysis reveals that their reactions in terms of supporting or against the show increased public interest of not using YouTube, Image and News as dominant sources of understanding the show as it unfolds every day (of the period studied). The people in Cross River, Osun, Delta, Rivers, Ogun, Edo, Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Abia, Anambra and Bayelsa states including Abuja used the sources the most. They preferred using YouTube and Image more than the News. The more they used YouTube, the less they appropriated the News as a source. This also applies to Image usage. The more they employed YouTube, the less they used Image as the source.

Eroding Value System

No doubt, the show has the tendency of eroding the national values as being envisaged by the public analysts and social commentators. Stakeholders need to ponder on the reward system in education and other sectors expected to help the country in inculcating national values and moral into the youths. If the show like this continues without cause for the morality, the youths who have been projected to be more than adults by 2050 are likely not to make significant contributions to the economy.

The era of awarding a cash gift of N100 only to best graduating students, while winners of entertainment events such as BBN are going home with N25 million, in addition to a brand new Kia Sorento SUV among other prizes should be stopped. Available information indicates that some state governments and private institutions are correcting anomalies in the education sector’s reward system. This needs to be intensified.  Failure to correct the wrongs would continue to lead to low interest in education among the youths. For instance, analysis has revealed that Nigerians deployed the Internet towards understanding how to kiss than how to make or produce certain things in 24 hours.

It has also been discovered that the higher the Nigerians’ top searches within who is, how to, most and top 10 search terms, the more the current price GDP of arts, entertainment and recreation sector increases. Who is, how to, most and top 10 made 93.3%, 94.5%, 95.6% and 94.5% contribution respectively to the sector at the expense of the education sector.

Broadcasting Immorality or Ideas

The National Broadcasting Commission was established with the mandate of regulating the broadcasting industry, especially players’ programme contents. However, it seems that the agency has found solace in reacting to political contents perceived as threats to the national unity than the contents capable of eroding the national values and facilitating crimes among the youths.

It is high time that the enforcement of the social and cultural objectives of the Commission Code be revisited. What are the factors impeding the effective implementation of the promotion of generally accepted social values and norms, especially civic and social responsibilities? Who is holding the key to the effective realisation of selecting critically the positive aspects of foreign cultures for the purpose of enriching the Nigerian culture and fostering of generally acceptable moral and spiritual values?

We would not get it right in terms of the right processes to creativity and innovation until we find the right answers to these questions. Since the emergence of the programme, the proponents and supporters believe that the TV show is contributing to talent development and tolerance among the youths, yet the country’s rankings in the last 5 years on the Global Creativity Index and other reports remain abysmal. In 2017, Nigeria was not among the six innovation achievers in Africa. During the year, the country moved down by five places to 119 out of 127 economies ranked in the world.

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