|Title||Media consumption amid contestation: Northern Nigerians’ engagement with the BBC World Service|
This study primarily examines the dynamics of the long-term relationship between the BBC World Service and its mainly Muslim Northern Nigerian audiences. It broadly explores the pattern and consequences of Northern Nigerians’ interactions with international media, focusing particularly on their engagement with the BBC World Service. Employing a multidimensional qualitative research approach, the study examines the historical background of the relationship, the transformations it has undergone, and how the current dynamics of global geopolitics and advances in communications technologies are redefining it. It looks at the complex processes and procedures of both media content production and reception. On the production side, it unveils the BBC’s contradictory functions of providing ‘impartial’ international news service and promoting British public diplomacy, the complexity of its relationship with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the nature of its engagement with distribution technologies. On the reception side, the mainly Muslim Northern Nigerians are found to be high consumers of BBC news and current affairs programmes but with considerable level of selectivity. Although they see BBC as the most credible international broadcaster that aids their comprehension of international affairs and generally influences their everyday life, they still regard it as essentially a Western cultural and ideological instrument that portrays the West positively and depicts the Muslim world and Africa negatively. The findings point to patterns and particularities of postcolonial transnational audiences’ consumption of media that suggest new conceptual and theoretical strands in reception research. They indicate audiences’ tendency to exhibit a phenomenon of selective believability in their interactions with transnational media; the mediating role of religion, culture and ideology in such interactions; and the dynamics of credibility and believability. Credibility is found to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for believability in audiences’ consumption of dissonant media messages.