1.1           BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY        

The last decade has seen an explosion in both the popularity of reality television programming and the use of social net-working sites (SNS). Murray and Ouellette (2009) argued that reality television has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States due to its inexpensive production costs and the ability of editors to high-light real and manufactured drama and comedy easily. Since the debut of Survivor in the summer of 2000, reality television has become a staple of both networks and cable channels (Baruh, 2010).

Individuals now have more viewing choices than ever before in deciding how to spend their time with television. With the explosion of cable programming channels, many different genres of programming are competing for niche market audiences (Hiebert & Gibbons, 2000). One programming type that has rapidly gained popularity across all TV channels in recent years is reality television programming. Most channels have some type of reality show (even ESPN created a reality show) to quench audience’s thirst for reality television programming. Research is needed to identify how reality television may differentially influence audience’s attitudes and perception. Therefore, this is a study of how perceptions are cultivated by reality TV programming.

According to Chikafa&Mateveke (2012) the concept of Big brother was borrowed from George Orwell’s novel of 1984 titled ‘fictional dystopia of Oceania’ in which he described a world of never-ending surveillance. In the novel, the dictator who watched over the citizens of Oceania was called Big Brother, and his terrifying slogan was ‘Big Brother is watching you’. In the Big Brother television show, contestants confined in the house compete to escape eviction in order to win the prize money. The reality TV show debuted on the African continent in 2003, and has since then, with the aid of the growth of satellite television in Africa, roused African audience interest and has remained an annual event till date (see: Chikafa&Mateveke 2012).

Big Brother reality show has continued to thrive and at the same time wax stronger mostly among the youth; although, the show, over the years, has been criticized for its display of obscene and vulgar scene which is considered not to be part of the Nigeria culture and that of Africa in general.

Television is a powerful medium that can influence a person‘s attitude and help to shape their perceptions on a wide variety of topics. Several studies have demonstrated that the information and exposure provided by television can influence a wide range of attitudes and behavior beyond providing entertainment (Murray and Ouellette, 2009). Reality shows are the trump cards of the producers of the television Industry. ‘‘A reality show is the live telecast of the performance or activity of the persons who may be the expert or non-expert of the respective field in an unpredictable environment & in unscripted manner’’. Reality Shows are genre of television shows or programmes which feature common people or celebrities and or both, in real life or scripted situations/environment or a mix of both real and scripted incidents. The genre often highlights personal drama and conflict to a much greater extent than other unscripted television such as documentary shows. It generally, breaks the monotony by creating interesting concepts and innovative ideas that made them stand out from the regular shows. Every day on television, some new reality shows are being introduced, enabling the viewers to choose from a large menu of many shows. Reality shows have become the order of the day, attracting and wooing the audiences in all age-group (Baruh, 2010). Most assumptions about the psychology of reality television viewership are derived from textual analyses of reality-based programs, rather than research involving audiences. Thus, it calls for investigations of reality-based programming based on the assumption that such programmes may implicate a network of social, economic, and political changes in modern society. Reality shows generally include interviews, talk shows, entertainment, documentaries, Comedy shows, horror Shows, educational shows, Talent hunt shows, celebrity shows and live quiz shows. Typically docu-dramas, invented or composite characters and dialogue are excluded from the reality TV category (Baruh, 2010). Therefore, this study focuses on the assessment of communication impact of big brother Nigeria.


The positive and negative impact of TV reality show on the communication pattern and behaviour of students attract the attention of so many intelligent people all over the world and calls for real academic debates and scholarly studies.

The Big Brother Africa television series has been fraught with controversy since it started gaining popularity in the Nigerian market. Critics of the show have vitriolic ally called for its ban from Nigerian television stations (satellite though), citing the nudity, loose morals, and other factors which they claim, can negatively influence Nigerian youths.

Since the debut of Big Brother TV reality show which was seen as a platform for Nigeria and Africa in general to showcase their culture to brother countries and to the outside world, and boost brotherliness and cohesion in the continent, the TV reality show has also been heavily criticized for promoting immorality through its display of obscene scene and use of inordinate languages hitherto seen to be alien to the rudiments of the cultures of Africa as a people.

According to Nwafor (2015), the TV reality show now displays uninhibited sexual frolics on open cameras, accusations STDs being passed around, shameless smooching by hormonal charged housemates and ear-tingling swear words are the predominant values being shown, which lamely try to project positive African cultures and traditions; which is ironical because such modern franchises like Big Brother Naija are neo-imperialist means of eroding the very essence of Africanism (Nwafor (2015).

Reasoning along this line, Ojoko (2013) writes that Big Brother reality show has no doubt generated a lot of controversies in recent times, and worthy of note is that the fact that the sponsors or organizers are near-faceless, and the show exhibits low moral values and falls short of what is expected in these days where clamour for the good days when cultural and good moral values was at its peak.

Other scholars contend that Big Brother reality show, just like many other reality TV shows has raised a lot of moral panics among parents teachers and guardians especially on issues relating to sex, nudity, violence, cheating and voting unfairness. The level of immorality being celebrated by the Big Brother reality show is adjudged short of programmes intended for education (Laitto, 2015). Yet, many African audience especially the youth have continued to imbibe the damaging style of the programme and the actors have turned to celebrities (see Oluwakayode, 2013; para 11). This has led to several calls demanding for its ban and censorship. For instance in 2007, the Nigeria House of Representatives issued a directive to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission to discontinue the airing of any clip or debate on Big Brother reality show (Ralvy, 2007). Despite these outcries and the moral panics, the reality show has neither improved in moral tone nor viewership level reduced. Number of viewers that voted on the final week of Big Brother Naija 2017 was estimated at 26 million, most of which were youths.   This shows that there is a large followership amongst the Nigeria youths as the reality show seem to have a lasting impact on the youths.

Since television is seen as an audiovisual medium through which youths especially students are influenced on their day to day activities as it teaches both moral and sometimes bad behaviors, thereby having a lasting impact on the students. This necessitated the need for this research which examines the assessment of communication impact of big brother Nigeria.


The general objective of this study is to carry out an assessment of communication impact of big brother Nigeria. The specific objective of this study include the following:

1.     To know the prevalence of Big brother Nigeria reality TV show among students of Lagos state university.

2.     To ascertain if Big brother Nigeria reality TV show has influence on the communication pattern of students of Lagos state university.

3.     To find out the ways Big brother Nigeria reality TV show has affect the communication of students of Lagos state university.

4.     To examine the impact of Big brother Nigeria reality TV show on the vogues words among students of Lagos state university.


The relevant research questions related to this study include the following:

1.     What is the prevalence of Big brother Nigeria reality TV show among students of Lagos state university?

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