In the context of a media industry disrupted by the influence of technology, television has managed to retain if not strengthen its appeal to the public. The figures keep growing.
In 2002, only 30 percent of the Nigerian population had a television set in their homes, according to Trade Economics. By 2004, it had risen to 32 percent and close to 34 percent by 2006. By 2010, 40 percent of Nigerians had TV in their homes.
The number of Pay TV households is also on the rise. From 1.5 million in 2011 to 1.9 million in 2012, it rose to 2.3 million in 2017 and is expected to hit 4.9 million by 2021.
Channels TV is Nigeria’s leading television station, maintaining a stranglehold on the viewing public for most of the years since it began broadcasting in 1995 — three years after its founding by John Momoh, an entrepreneur and veteran broadcaster whose father was a cook. Channels TV has no discernible political leaning.
A research in the first quarter of 2017 by GeoPoll Media Measurement rated Channels TV as possessing the highest TV following with an average of 14.2 percent of all viewers nationally. Next was AIT, with an average share of 13.9 percent. Silverbird TV achieved the third highest share with an average share of 10.3 percent, followed by CNN with 8.6 percent.
Unlike Channels TV, Africa Independent Television (AIT) has noticeable political interests. Its founder, Raymond Dokpesi, is officially a politician — although he wasn’t as of 1996 when he founded the station. Only last year, Dokpesi sought to be the chairman of Nigeria’s ruling-turned-opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Also important in Nigeria’s TV landscape is the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), which prides itself on being the largest TV network in Africa. True. NTA is so large that it has a state-controlled version in every state of the federation. As of 2014, it had a whopping 101 stations in state capitals and major towns in the country.
However, NTA, which, alongside the FRCN, produced numerous outstanding broadcast journalists — including Channels TV’s John Momoh — has fallen considerably beneath Channels. NTA literally operates as the official mouthpiece of the Nigerian government.