Historical development of state-owned broadcasting in Eastern Nigeria

The Beginning

History of state-owned broadcasting establishments in the South East can be traced to the establishment of Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Service (ENBS) on Ist October, 1960, by the Eastern Regional Government. As more states were created from the region, the ENBS evolved into other stations until fragments of it directly or indirectly became the various state-owned broadcasting organizations in the five South Eastern States today. Both radio and television stations of the ENBS took off at the same time. It was called ENBS Radio/Television. The office complex of ENBS was located at ACB building Ogui road, Enugu, when the establishment was first launched before it was moved to its permanent site at Independence Layout, where Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) is currently located.

How ENBS Evolved into State-Owned Media Houses in the South East Today

As more states were carved out of the Eastern Region, the ENBS was gradually dismantled and transformed into other stations that served the needs of the new states. The process of splitting and transformation into new stations began with the creation of 12 states by the General Yakubu Gowon led military administration in 1967. Precisely in May, 1967, Gowon announced the division of the four Nigerian regions (Northern, Eastern, Western, and Mid-Western regions) into 12 states. Three states were carved out of the Eastern region. They are East Central State, Rivers, and Cross River States. The East Central State inherited what was then the ENBS radio and television stations. The station then transformed to East Central State Broadcasting Service (ECBS) radio and television stations. In 1976, the East Central State was divided into Anambra and Imo States. By this time, the Federal Government led by General Olusegun Obasanjo had taken over all television stations of the various states and operated them centrally.

The ENBS TV (which had become ECBS TV) became NTA Enugu in 1978. What happened was that the promulgation of Decree 24 in May 1977 by the then Federal Military Government led by Olusegun Obasanjo gave birth to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). The decree which took effect retrospectively from April 1976 brought all the ten existing television stations under the control of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The television stations existing then were all transformed into federal government owned stations through Decree 24. They were Western Nigerian Television (WNTV) which then transformed to NTA Ibadan, Eastern Nigerian Television (ENTV) which became known as NTA Enugu and Radio Kaduna Television (RKTV) which later split to become NTA Kaduna and FRCN Kaduna. When Anambra and Imo states were in 1976, the ECBS was changed to Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS). The Federal Government acquired the Television arm of the ABS in 1977, re-baptized it Anambra Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The then military administration of Obasanjo wanted to fund and control broadcasting in Nigeria centrally so all the stations, including ECBS radio and television stations were taken over by the federal government. The staff of ECBS were absorbed into the federal stations operated by the federal government. The federal government created Nigeria Television (NTV) in 1977, which was re-organized as Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in 1978. The office complex of the East Central State Broadcasting Service located at Independence layout then became the office complex of the NTA. Broadcasting remained in the exclusive list, as the federal government took over the control of both regional and state stations, and controlled them centrally.

In 1979, broadcasting was returned to the concurrent list, meaning that the states were again permitted to operate radio and television stations. This was after the civilian administration took over from the army. There was an amendment in the 1979 Constitution which gave the Nigerian president the power to allow state governments, organizations and individuals to operate television stations. The ECBS (formerly ENBS) was then split by the two states – Anambra and Imo – carved out of the East Central State. The head office of the ENBS in Enugu (which had become East Central State Broadcasting Service was taken over by Anambra State and converted to Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS). Radio Nigeria office in Onitsha was handed over to Anambra state government in 1979 and it became Anambra Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio 2 Onitsha in 1982. Radio Nigeria Enugu has been around since 1951 when it was established.

The constitutional amendment of 1979 that returned broadcasting to states altered the broadcast media landscape in Eastern Nigeria as Anambra and Imo states established their own state television stations and by the end of 1983 these two state owned stations were part of the additional nine television stations that had appeared in the country’s broadcast media landscape. Anambra state established a television station in 1981 since the one that existed in the East Central State was converted to NTA. In 1985, the state’s radio merged with its television station to become ABS Radio/Tv Enugu. The Imo Broadcasting Service (IBS) was established by edict No. 15 of 1976. After states were permitted to own television stations in 1979, Imo State then established IBC television (NBC, n.d.).

Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS):

With the creation of the New Anambra and Enugu states in 1991, the Anambra Broadcasting Service Enugu, gave birth to Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) Radio/TV Awka and Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) Enugu. The ABS moved to its permanent site on the Enugu/Onithsa Expressway in Awka in January, 2002. The station has three other operational areas: The Broadcasting House at 4 Park Road, Onitsha; The Television station at Awada; and The Booster station which is the station’s major operational base, located at Enugwu-Ukwu (“Anambra Broadcasting Service” n.d.).

Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC)

The IBC (which was initially established as Imo Broadcasting Service (IBS) by edict No. 15 of 1976) had its temporary administrative headquarters at 13/15 Ajoku Street Owerri from where it was finally moved to the Egbu Road location before its present headquarters at Chief Achike Udenwa Avenue, New Owerri in March 2008 (NBC, n.d.). The television station was established shortly after civilian government took over governance in 1979. The radio station was essentially an amplitude modulation (AM) station and it transmitted on channel 721 kilohertz in the medium wave band.

Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA)

After Abia state was created in 1991, the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) was established by edict No. 4 of 1991 promulgated by the then military Administration of Group Captain Frank Ajobene (“Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State”, n.d.). Its headquarters was initially located at 70 Aba road, Umuahia before it was moved to its permanent site along the government station layout in 1998. The stations slogan is The Station Born To Lead. The BCA has both Radio and Television stations. While the radio station came on air on 16th November 1992, the Television arm went on air on the 14th of August, 1994 (“Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State”, n.d.).

Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS)

The Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) kept on evolving from the Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Service (ENBS) until it became what it is today. As the state still retaining the capital of the old Eastern region, the ENBS stations of the old Eastern Region, kept getting converted to new stations as new states were created from the Enugu. When the New Anambra and Enugu states were created in 1991, the Anambra Broadcasting Service Enugu, split into two. It gave birth to Anambra Broadcasting Service (Radio/TV) Awka and Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) Enugu. This marked the beginning of ESBS as a station operated by the new Enugu State. The ESBS inherited the head offices of the former ABS located in Enugu. The radio arm of the station used to have an AM station but that has since been folded, especially with the popularity of FM stations across the country.

Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation (EBBC)

The EBBC has Radio and Television services owned by Ebonyi State Government. The station was created by Edict 1 of 1990 but the radio station was established on 3rd February 1997 while transmission commenced on March 22, 1997. The station was designed to bring government closer to the people by promoting government projects, programmes and policies. It has very wide reach which covers South-East and South-South Zones, including parts of Kogi and Edo states.

Finally!

The ENBS served as a catalyst for the development of broadcasting in the South Eastern geopolitical zone of Nigeria currently made up of five states – Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi States. After the deregulation of the broadcasting industry in 1992 through Decree 38, later amended as an Act of National Assembly, Act 55 of 1999, the broadcast media landscape in the South Eastern Nigeria became more vibrant. The role of ENBS in laying the foundation for the development of broadcasting in Eastern Nigeria is still very much recognized among practitioners and scholars in the field of media and communication in Nigeria.

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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