1.1Background of Study
Since the beginning of the 21st century, reality TV has begun to monopolize both cable and
broadcast primetime television programming schedules. In this context reality TV is defined as a
show without ―actors‖ in which the general public has access to becoming a contestant on the
program. While technically any type of live, unscripted, or non-fiction program is reality TV,
this examination excludes news, interviews and talk show type of programs which were the
contemporary television programs hitherto and it focus on competitive and entertainment reality
TV programs. What those in the television business can understand is that reality TV is the most
profitable form of television programming because it has lower production costs and often brings
in more viewers and more advertising revenue than scripted programs (Hirschorn, 2007).
However, what is not always fully understood is why more viewers are watching reality TV.
Reality television, is a broad category that includes a wide range of programs aiming to
be both factual and entertaining, it‘s a genre that has become the latest favorite program of
viewers which has made its way into the African society. Reality television is significantly
proving to be a favorite among the youth – particularly those who fall within the 18-25 age range
(Baumgardner, 2003; Brasch, 2003; Hiltbrand, 2004). Reality television on the whole can be
summed up by four characteristics which are the attempted use of passive camera surveillance,
illusion of reality, focus on ordinary people, and a certain extent of voyeurism. Although all
reality programs share these traits, it is difficult to define reality television as a self-sufficient
genre because it draws from a number of genres. Reality television continues to grow and
change, like many programs on television. The fact that the genre has qualities from many
different genres not only makes it difficult to define, but it also makes it versatile because of its
ability to draw from many genres.
Reality television definitions by various scholars such as; Hill (2002:326) describes
reality television as factual entertainment and further identifies three sub-genres of factual
entertainment namely observation programs, information programs and programs created for
television. Observation programs refer to documentaries about ordinary people in everyday
places. Information programs include documentaries based on true stories that aim to tell viewers
something, e.g. about medical emergencies and pets. According to Roscoe (2001) and Malakoff
(2005) both reflect that reality television programs where real people who are often placed in
extraordinary situations where their every moment is recorded as they react to their surroundings.
Thus, as Roscoe (2001) further notes, the conventional boundaries between fact and fiction,
drama and documentary and between the audience and the text are blurred. There are now
African versions of Fear Factor, The Biggest Loser and Idols. Various other African countries
have versions of these shows under different names.
Big Brother is a ‗reality‘ television show in which a group of people are brought together
in a large house, isolated from the outside world, and made to live together while being
continuously watched by television cameras – a concept borrowed from George Orwell‘s
fictional dystopia of Oceania, a world of never- ending surveillance in the novel 1984. The
dictator who watches over the citizens of Oceania is Big Brother, whose terrifying slogan is ‗Big
Brother is watching you‘. In the Big Brother television show the house-confined contestants
compete to avoid eviction so as to win the prize money.
Big Brother Africa with an estimated viewership of more than forty million(40,000,000)
across Africa is the African version of the reality game show Big Brother, however, with the
growth of satellite television in Africa, Big Brother debuted on the continent in 2003 and has
roused African audience interest since its debut. Seasons one to three included twelve
contestants from twelve countries. The fourth season (BBA Revolution) featured 25 housemates
from 14 different African countries introduced Mozambique and Ethiopia; this was the first
season with 14 countries while season five of BBA (All Stars) featured fourteen former BBA
contestants. Season six (BBA Amplified) bringing together 26 housemates from 14 countries.
Season seven (BBA Star Game) the cash prize was raised to US $300,000, 35 contestants
constituted 14 pairs called BBFs (Big Brother Friends) and seven VIP celebrity housemates from
14 countries. Season eight (BBA the Chase) with 28 housemates and as $300 000 cash prize. The
current one which is the Ninth season titled Big Brother Africa Hotshots which is the focal point
of this study. This year open auditions were held in the same 14 countries as the previous season
(The Chase) with the only exception being Angola which was replaced by new-comers Rwanda.
Although Angola is the only country left out from the original 12 participating countries, this
year Dstv premiered a local Angolan Portuguese version, Big Brother Angola. Additional
auditions were held in Mozambique so viewers can expect a little extra surprise this season.
Production of this season was put on hold as the Big Brother house in Highlands North,
Johannesburg burnt down. Fortunately no one was injured in the blaze, which currently has an
unknown cause. Season 9 premiered on the 5th October 2014, with 26 contestants. The show
began with more swag introducing the most dynamic and talented housemates the show has ever
seen. The cameras were increased to fifty four and there were one hundred and twenty
microphones. BBA, like all other Big Brother formats has had controversies on issues such as
sex, nudity, violence, cheating and voting unfairness.
However, the BBA show has also been praised for producing new bonds between
otherwise disconnected people (vanZoonen & Aslama, 2006). Bignell (2005) also argues that
the appeal of BBA lies in its representation of an African originated program whose agenda is
not the usual wars and natural disasters represented in European news agendas. The subject of
Big Brother has also gained a lot of scholarly attention vanZoonen & Aslama (2006) have looked
at the history of Big Brother which would be discussed in detail in Chapter two of this study.
Roscoe (2001) posits that Big Brother is constructed around performance because cameras force
the participants to perform for the audiences as well as the other housemates so as to avoid
nomination. Roscoe also shows how Big Brother assumes its audience to be highly media literate
and adolescents and youths (young adults) seem to fit this category of audiences.
However, the research examined how a controversial reality television show like Big
Brother Africa has influenced the behaviors of youths positively and negatively and how it
contributed to their academic and socio-cultural values. The study made use of the students of
Afe Babalola University who watch the reality show to a large extent every season to gather
results for the research.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
As a dominant force in television entertainment, reality TV programs are assumed to be cheaper
to produce and draw larger viewing audiences than standard programs. However, it seems some
of these shows have little to do with reality. The fact remains that reality TV programing has
both negative and positive effects for viewers and participants alike.
However, Big Brother reality show is not an exemption in regards to the problems or
negative effects of reality shows, which on the surface these programs give the impression that
shows are unscripted and natural. But the truth is far less glamorous: most reality shows are
tightly scripted and controlled. Stories and situations are developed in advance. The show has a
proclivity for spotlighting meanness, greed, deception, airing of shower moments of housemates
and other negative personality traits on competitive platforms.
Based on this, the study examines whether Big Brother Africa reality TV show has an
influence on the social behavior of youths using Afe Babalola University Students as
respondents of the study.
1.3 Objective of the Study
This study was designed to examine the influence of Big Brother Africa reality television show
on youths particularly students of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti. The objectives are:
i. To determine if the students of Afe Babalola University watch Big Brother Africa
reality show and to what extent do they watch the show.
ii. To find out if the Big Brother Africa TV show has contributed to the academic and
socio-cultural values of Afe Babalola students and to what extent is the
iii. To know if the Big Brother Africa reality game show has influence on the social
behavior of Afe Babalola students and to what extent.
1.4 Research Questions
i. Do Afe Babalola University students watch Big Brother Africa and what is the
level of their viewership?
ii. Has the Big Brother reality show contributed to the academic and socio-cultural
values of Afe Babalola University student and to what level is the contribution?
iii. Does Big Brother Africa reality show have an influence on the behavior of Afe
Babalola University students and to what level has it influenced their behavior?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
H0 – Big Brother Africa reality television show has a significant influence on Nigerian youths
H1 – Big Brother Africa reality television show does not have a significant influence on Nigerian
1.6 Significance of the Study
As mentioned in the above discussion, reality television has emerged as a strong
competitor for traditional programming in the television arena. This is evident from the many
reality shows being broadcast on Digital satellite television (Dstv) such as Survivor, The
Amazing Race, The Apprentice, On Site and Pop Idols. The fact that these shows are scheduled
for prime time broadcast also supports the prominence and popularity of reality television shows.
Not only is the genre very popular among its target audience, but low production costs also
contribute to making reality television the genre of choice for production companies and
The findings of this study will lay a foundation for further research on the effects of
reality television programs or viewership on the Nigerian society, youths especially. Although
not much study has been done on the influence of Big Brother Africa on Nigerian youths, this
paper presents an up-to-date empirical analysis of the aforementioned and made use of Afe
Babalola University students as samples for generalization.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study was limited to Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State with
students in all the colleges of the University, which are; Social and Management Sciences, Law,
Medical and Health Sciences and Engineering and Arts & Humanity.
Due to time factor, all students could not be studied in all and that is why the scope was
narrowed down to selected Afe Babalola University students.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Youth: a ―youth‖ is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood
to adulthood. According to the Africa Youth Charter, youth means ―every person between the
ages of 15 and 35 years‖.
Television: Television (TV) is a widely used telecommunication medium for transmitting and
receiving moving images accompanied by sound and sometimes text.
Reality Television: Reality TV is a type of television which aims to show how ordinary people
behave in everyday life, or in situations, often created by the program makers, which are
intended to be like everyday life.
Students: This refers to a group of people who studies at a school, college, university or any
institution of learning. In the course of this study the students are Afe Babalola University
Television viewership: this refers to the extent at which people watch television or a Television
Television Audience/ viewers: refers the audiences of a television program or station.
Influence: the power to affect, control or manipulate something or someone. In respect to this
study, influence can be seen as the power Big Brother Africa TV show has on youths.
Big Brother Africa: is the African version of the Big Brother game show also known as BBA.
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