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Sunday, September 4, 2011

MSNBC & NIGERIA'S NEWS CHANNELS

No thanks to NEPA/PHCN and the noise of generators, I find that over the time, consciously or not, I have developed a reduced desire to watch television. Once I have music, and a good book to read, I'm very much ok. Of course I like to listen to or watch the news. But even when I was watching TV very actively, a 24-hour news station/channel never really held much attraction for me. I mean, what do they really do? Repeat the same old news items every half-hour like someone just learning to recite the alphabet? No Siree! Watching one half-hour of news on a 24-hour news channel is usually enough to last me for about 5 hours or more unless something important breaks out somewhere in-between that time. That is why my increasing addiction to MSNBC (Lean Forward!) is something that I find by itself quite interesting. It usually takes quite a lot to keep me glued to a particular channel due to my impatient nature. I am more comfortable watching a programme that gives me virtual instant gratifications. Programs such as comedies, quiz programs like the Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Talk shows and of course musicals. Even a movie would have to work hard and really grab my attention very early to keep my interest. By now, you must guess that for MSNBC to get and keep my interest, they must be doing something or a whole lots of things differently form other news stations. And of course you will be very right! Yes, like all other boring news stations, MSNBC repeats news items from time to time. But what sets them apart from most other news stations is the number of talk shows they have. Now, the shows on MSNBC is not like the typical talk shows with live audience and a panel of discussants. Their talk shows is minus the live audience but with discussants not necessarily present in the studio but people that can be interviewed or who can discuss whatever news item they want analysed from anywhere in the world through perhaps video conferencing and other similar methods. So shows like the Dylan Ratigan Show, Rachel Maddow show, Morning Joe, Hard Talk with Chris Matthews, Daily Run Down with Chuck Todd, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donell and so many others keep me glued to the channel with their serious and at once light- hearted ways of discussing news items and other topical issues. MSNBC doesn't just content itself with reporting and reading the news. It distinguishes itself by focusing more on the analysis of news items in a no-holds-barred and very progressive manner. In the evenings and during the weekends, it airs the investigative and no-less interesting aspect of its programs. For instance, Lock-up is a sort of documentary in which focus is directed on the prisons in the USA, particular prisoners and life behind the bars. In Nigeria here, Channels TV was the first TV to come on board as a 24-hours news station. Channels does alright except for the fact that it, like most other all news stations, bores me almost to tears with the repetition of the same news items every half-hour. It even stints on some of its news items during the day so it can have a much fuller news broadcast during its prime time for news at 10 pm! So once I watch one half-hour of news on Channels during the day, unless something important happens, I might as well rest and go off till 10 pm! Well, that may be good enough for Channels and some other news stations and their viewers, but it certainly doesn't do for me! As for NN24, the new entrant 24-hour news station in Nigeria, I have to admit that I haven't had too much opportunity to watch it so as to be able to assess it very well but the little I have seen of it have not been in my opinion, too impressive. The way the studio sometimes looks so bare as if it's just a makeshift arrangement leaves quite a lot to be desired. Channels TV could do more in the area of programs that discuses and analyses news items, but I already see a problem, just like on Sunrise (perhaps their best program yet), guests and discussants will not be allowed to really say it as it is. It is understandable as it is annoying.I find this understandable because the station managers/owners are quite naturally afraid of the threat of being shut down and or being sued for some imaginary or real wrongs. I find it frustrating and annoying because it doesn't make the program as interesting and as candid as it would have been if (reasonable) guests are given complete freedom to truly speak their minds . And that is what sets programs like the Rachel Maddow Show, the Ed Schultz show and others on MSNBC apart from a program like Sunrise on Channels TV. I believe Channels TV can spice up their programming with more investigative documentaries like the one that won Deji Badmus (now Bademosi) an award some time ago. We have so many people in our prisons who were arrested by the police without any investigation or for wandering