First TV Station in Nigeria: How It All Started

The outburst of the media in this age is an outstanding one that would cause us to trace it back in time to when the media began in our own country, Nigeria.

We have an abundance of TV stations in Nigeria at the moment but have you ever wondered what station is the first in Nigeria, who established it and how it all started? Well, this article takes you on an interesting ride to the start of Television stations in Nigeria.

First TV Station in Nigeria: How It All Started

first tv station in nigeria

Before Nigeria had her own indigenous Television station, there was the British Broadcasting Corporation. October 31, 1959, was a Saturday and on that night, some Nigerians settled in with their Television sets as the screen lit up to a logo that read ‘Western Nigerian television’ (WNTV), this was the start of something new. This new television channel signaled the success of Obafemi Awolowo who was the Premier of the Western Nigerian Region and Anthony Enahoro, the Minister of Information at that time.

October 31, 1959, not only marked the day of the first television broadcast in Nigeria but the first broadcast of Tropical African Television. Yes, the West Nigerian Television is the first Television broadcast station in Africa. WNTV was located in Ibadan and had its first chairperson to be Olapade Obisesan. The WNTV was a regional television station but was remarkably the first step in creating Nigerian television.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo who established the channel stressed the expected functions of the channel; that is to entertain, teach and stimulate the Nigerian people towards a better and successful nation.

The region was able to establish a TV station only because of a constitutional change that removed broadcasting from an exclusive item to a concurrent item and also because of the political resolution of the then regional premier, Obafemi Awolowo and Anthony Enahoro, the regional minister of Information. This action allowed and gave regional governments the right to establish an independent broadcasting station, free from the Federal Government’s control.

This freedom armed the Western Region House Parliament to pass an act that established the Western Nigerian Television (WNTV).

It was said at the time that the establishment of the Western Nigerian Television had some political underpinnings. However, the Western Region House of Parliament argued that the television station was established primarily to serve as a complement to the understaffed educational sector and enhance literacy among her citizens. The television station was designed to be an educational tool for the public and also a medium to boost the local culture through dramas, music, and news. Chief Obafemi Awolowo also placed emphasis on the purpose of the Television station to provide information on the happenings both outside the country and in Nigeria (foreign news was also included in the broadcast of the station) He stressed that this was an important part in nurturing a young sovereign nation like Nigeria.

The station had many educational programs such as documentations and entertaining shows that encouraged the Nigerian people to express themselves. This made many Nigerians eager to get television sets in their homes.

WNTS was created as a partnership between the Western regional government and a foreign firm, the Overseas rediffusion. In 1962, the Western government parted ways with its foreign partner. Therefore, WNTV solely came under the control of the regional government. This change in the structure of ownership from a mixture of social and commercial interest to solely that of a social and political interest made the station an organ of government information and a tool wielded by the party in power.

News programs were the powerhouse of the station. Such news programs included the WNTV News and Highlight. Between the year 1959 and 1964, imported dramas dominated the programming of the station, as well as reruns of shows such as Adventures of Robin HoodCisco KidHop Along Cassidy which were popular among children.

In 1962, the WNTV began a campaign to increase its audience and viewership through outreach programs in rural areas and schools. This campaign started with the Omi-Adio Lalupon TV viewing project were television sets powered by generators where purchased for joint viewing at rural community centers.

Some other programmes of the WNTV that were well received include News and You, an educational program that was about current affairs discussion. News and You was produced by Christopher Kolade. Another show was the Ministry of Education and Careers, a show that featured people in their various occupations.

Although this period was marked by little measurable statistics, the station unarguably played a pivotal role in promoting Yoruba traveling theatre. It taped and beamed Duro Ladipo‘s play, Ọba kò so and Bode Waasimi for television viewing. In 1976, Kootu Asipa by Duro Ladipo was also a popular drama.

In the 1970s, the television station broadcasted popular shows such as Alawada by the Alawada Group that included Moses Olaiya also known as Baba Sala.

After the western region had established its own television station, other regions followed suit with the Eastern region establishing its own station in 1960 and the Northern region in 1962. Each of these regions entered into a partnership with a British broadcasting company called Rediffusion who supplied and installed their TV station equipment.

In 1962, to be precise, Kaduna state established its own regional television and called it Radio Kaduna Television (RKTV). The station broadcasted for Northern Nigeria.

Also in the year 1962, a federal channel known as the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (not the National Broadcasting Company) was established in Lagos; created for viewers in the South- Western part of Nigeria.

In 1972, there was the establishment of the Midwest TV for Port Harcourt and in 1974; Benue- Plateau Television Corporation was established in Jos.

In 1977, all the broadcasting stations mentioned above were combined into a big network named the Nigerian Television or NTV which was a government-run establishment. In 1975, the Federal Government of Nigeria established the Nigerian Television Authority network service and acquired all T.V. stations in Nigeria to form the network. WNTS then became NTA Ibadan. The Nigerian Television Authority exists to this day and is the biggest television network in Nigeria and arguably, Africa.

Currently, Nigeria has witnessed a huge growth in the media with over a hundred television stations in the country.


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