Where is the Igbo-owned television station?

AnalystSitting down on my sofa and watching the 60th birthday celebration of the Proprie­tor of Dengue Broadcasting Net­work (DBN) Osa Sony Adun on African Independent Television (AIT) recently, aroused my inter­est on writing this particular arti­cle which other writers through­out Nigeria have ignored.

DBN television Chairman, Osa Sony Adun, was one of those who pioneered private broadcasting in Nigeria in late 80’s and early 90’s. Why are the Igbo intelligentsia and business moguls lagging be­hind in the area of private televi­sion ownership? A good politi­cian knows the power of media. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of Western Nigeria, knowing the importance of infor­mation dissemination through the print and electronic media set up the Nigerian Tribune in 1949 even before Nigeria’s Independence in 1960. He also set up the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) us­ing both of them to influence the mindsets of his Yoruba people, lit­tle wonder the Yorubas are highly educated today. In contemporary Nigeria, a sagacious politician like Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu has various means of communication. In the area of print media, Tinubu owns The NATION newspapers. In the area of electronic media, he owns Television Continental (TVC) which has two arms; The news station and the entertain­ment station. Tinubu also owns Radio Continental, thereby mak­ing him the owner of both televi­sion and radio stations. Edo State seems to have the highest num­ber of television proprietors in the country. Raymond Aleogho Dok­pesi, the Proprietor of AIT is from Edo State.

Charles Momoh, the Proprietor of Channels Television is from Edo State. Osa Sony Adun of DBN, the one whose 60th birthday celebra­tion inspired this article is from Edo State. Esama of Benin King­dom, Chief Gabriel Igbinedi­on, the Proprietor of Independ­ent Television (ITV) is from Edo State. And so many others. Silver­bird Television is owned by Sena­tor Ben Murray Bruce. I’m limiting this article to hardcore television stations excluding television sta­tions like Sound city, Hiptv, Ontv, Mitv, etc. which are entertainment biased. Curiously, no Igbo man owns any television station in Ni­geria today.

However, an Igbo man in the person of Senator Mike Ajegbo, an Obosi man from Anambra State, used to be the proprietor of a television station known as Mi­naj Broadcast International (MBI) in the late 90’s which went off air immediately he left the Senate in 2003. MBI, apart from the pride and sense of belonging it gave Igbo people all over the country while it operated had sixty per cent of its staff as Igbo people. In the advent of Fourth Republic democracy in 1999, I recall with nostalgia that MBI used to be the voice of Ndig­bo and their activities. The station’s news bulletin and programmes gave ample airtime to the activ­ities of Ndigbo down to the hin­terlands.

Why are Ndigbo business mo­guls not interested in owning tel­evision stations? Granted that ob­taining a television license is a difficult task, but it not as hercu­lean as many people think. Orji Uzor Kalu has two national news­papers, The Sun and The New Tel­egraph. Why did Chief Kalu even set up two national newspapers in­stead of looking in the direction of setting up a television station?

Apart from The Sun, The New Telegraph is not doing well at all, three years after its inception.

I know, by setting that paper he provided employments to a lot of people, but is the newspaper via­ble and sustaining itself unlike The Sun? Chief Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah is the owner of The Authority news­papers which is less than one year old.

It is a good venture though having provided employments to hundreds, if not thousands of people. It is also complementing The Sun newspapers as the only thriving Igbo newspapers in the market. However, I think Chief Ubah should have gone into tel­evision ownership though it’s not late. Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyan­wu is another Igbo business mo­gul who had interest in media by setting up the near-defunct Cham­pions newspapers. I learnt that the Champions newspaper is still walking with one leg in the Lagos metropolis. But, my worry is that If the newspaper cannot thrive in Imo state where Chief Iwuanyan­wu comes from, is it Lagosians that will accept it? Dr ABC Orjiako is another Igbo man that has a na­tional newspaper called The Un­ion. They ability of the newspaper to break into the already saturat­ed newspaper industry is yet to be seen after three years of its debut.

Maduako, a public policy ana­lyst writes from Owerri, Imo state

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