The dissertation critically examines the still evolving process of neoliberal democratization and its impact on the philosophy and structure of the Nigerian media. The return of civil rule in 1999 following decades of military despotism naturally generated a great deal of expectation regarding the prospects of a more democratic media system that would foster popular participation in development and governance. Well over a decade into the democratic experience, not much has changed as the country’s media, particularly the broadcasting sector continue to stagnate under military era policies and legislations that automatically became Acts of parliament. The lack of substantive democratization by way of policies and regulations required of a democratic society is further compounded by the selective application of neoliberal policies relative to the political and economic interests of the ruling elite as evidenced by the contrasting policies in broadcasting and telecommunications in which the former remain largely under the stranglehold of the state and the latter almost fully deregulated. Further, the sustained advocacy of coalitions of civil society groups on a host of issues geared towards a more democratic, participatory and accessible media have thus far failed due to the shenanigans of members of parliament and top government officials who want to maintain the status quo. The apparent democratic deficit of the Nigerian media speaks directly to the limits of her current neoliberal democratization. The study draws from both postcolonial and globalization studies as well as critical political economy to explain the complexity of the Nigerian nation and context of its democratization. And given the widespread government abuse of the media in Nigeria, it identifies with the liberal critique of an overreaching state, but not necessarily its unfettered market prescription. Instead, it endorses a social democratic and plural media system not controlled by a leviathan state or behemoth capital; an inclusive system that goes beyond political and economic elites and the urban middle class to also serve the interests of minority groups and cultures, marginal voices and the often overlooked rural peasant populations.
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Thesis advisor: Zhao, Yuezhi
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