The Station is a television drama series which was created and produced in 2006 by Common Ground Productions (CGP) in Lagos, Nigeria.
The storyline revolves around Action News, a fictional television news station. Through the eyes of the many people that work at the station - journalists, anchors, camera people, businesspeople - the viewer experiences the problems and conflicts that exist among Nigeria's ethnically diverse population. It also offers a glimpse into the world of television journalism. The Station is not designed to provide solutions to the problems Nigerians face in their daily lives, but, rather, raises questions, promotes peaceful alternatives, and provides positive role models for viewers.
Organisers say that The Station is one of the most ambitious productions ever undertaken in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of cast, crew, set design, and filming style. To fully capture the complexity, dynamism, and energy of television journalism, a dilapidated warehouse in Lagos was transformed into a production studio that includes a Cable News Network (CNN)-style newsroom as well as domestic and office interior sets.
Several principal characters were cast through The Academy, a documentary/reality television show created and produced in Nigeria by Common Ground Productions in association with Nestlé. The show was created to celebrate Nigeria's wealth of creative talent and offered a glimpse into the world of acting. The series featured 20 aspiring actors and actresses who put their performance skills to the test for the chance to win lead roles in The Station.
Conflict, Gender, HIV/AIDS.
Common Ground Productions (CGP) is the media arm of Search for Common Ground. Using television, radio, and internet programming, CGP works to transform the way individuals and societies deal with conflict - away from adversarial approaches and toward cooperative solutions.
Search for Common Ground website on November 11 2009.
Created by the BBC World Service Trust (WST), Wetin Dey ('What's Up?') is an HIV/AIDS television drama exploring social realities facing young people aged 15-24 in Nigeria.
Wetin Dey is a multi-strand, multi-character weekly television drama. Set in peri-urban Nigeria, the drama is designed to focus on lower socio-economic groups, with an emphasis on the daily lives of ordinary Nigerians. While each Wetin Dey episode is designed with a message brief in mind, the drama is not necessarily always directive in determining what meanings viewers should take away. It expects that messages retained by the audience will vary according to their social realities. For example, some characters in Wetin Dey are shown to abstain from sex, while others use condoms.
In recognition that audiences are heterogeneous, the characters speak to the diversity of the intended audience, which varies by age, gender, ethnic affiliation, religion, first language, education, and sexual activity. For instance, Yetunde is a character from a lower socio-economic class whose mother dies of HIV/AIDS. Because of this, she faces frequent discrimination, and struggles to find work and care for her younger sisters. Aisha is a rich girl whose father wants her to marry the son of a senator, yet she already has a boyfriend, named Hakim. Bilkisu is a female sex worker, who "sells fish" as a cover. Chike is a mechanic who falls for Bilkisu and wants to keep her from prostitution. Bayo is a 17-year-old aspiring football player who has run away from home. Chris is a policeman who is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. He is in a troubled marriage, and both he and his wife Stella are, at times, unfaithful to each other (Stella is having an affair with a married man - Aisha's father).
Formative research helped establish the general parameters and objectives of the campaign, providing insight into the knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, values, tastes, decision-making processes, information needs, and media consumption patterns and preferences of the intended audience. This formative research included a large qualitative study, which in turn informed a baseline quantitative study. In addition, prior to producing and launching the first series of Wetin Dey, the production team produced a pilot of the drama to be pre-tested with the intended audience and their parents in a qualitative study involving 20 focus group discussions across Nigeria. The purpose of this study was to guide the formation of dramatic concepts, and inform key production decisions. It helped to refine the drama in terms of tone, language, relevance, and appropriateness. The findings were also used by the writers in Nigeria to develop characters and plotlines. In fact, the majority of Wetin Dey episodes were pre-tested before they were broadcast. Pre-testing generally focused on the appeal of an episode, and provided a measure of audience reaction with respect to specific issues such as language, appropriateness, believability, and audience expectations. In addition, it attempted to identify which themes (from storylines or specific sub-plots) were clear to the audience, which themes are unclear, and whether the audience picked up any additional (unintended) themes.
The BBC WST trained a Nigerian team to produce Wetin Dey through workshops that focused on script-writing, editing, and production of reality TV programmes. Many of the international television/film makers and advertising directors who worked on the project are members of the African Diaspora. In addition to teaching technical production skills, training courses promoted increased and more accurate coverage of HIV and AIDS in all media, and aimed to counter the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV and AIDS. The series was shot entirely on location in Nigeria.
National Population Commission figures (2002) indicate that approximately 25% of Nigeria's total population are 15-34 years old and nearly 51% are 14 years old or younger. Life expectancy is 46 years, and HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death is. In the 15-49 age group, the HIV/AIDS rate is more than 1 in 20 (World Health Organization (WHO), 2006). The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated in 2006 that more than 2.5 million people in Nigeria over the age of 15 were living with HIV/AIDS.
Wetin Dey was created as part of a wider project - "Stop HIV" - funded between 2005 and early 2008 by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID) to address HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health among young Nigerians. The project, delivered in partnership with the Society for Family Health (SFH), was a mass media intervention that included a broad array of mutually reinforcing outputs on radio, television, and film - including Wetin Dey.
"Wetin Dey: Good Girls/Bad Girls in TV Drama in Nigeria", by Emily LeRoux-Rutledge, Linda Nwoke, Anna Godfrey, and Timothy Cooper, July 2009 - sent via email from Emily LeRoux-Rutledge to The Communication Initiative on October 1 2009; BBC WST website, accessed October 21 2009.
In April 2005, the BBC World Service Trust (WST) began working in partnership with a range of Nigerian broadcasters and media professionals to raise awareness and change behaviour around HIV and AIDS
The project used various types of media to offer dialogue and advice to young people on how they can protect themselves against HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The BBC WST sees HIV and AIDS as part of the social dimension of young people's lives, and addresses the issue within its social context. This translates into discussion on-air on all things that matter to young people between 15 and 24, including the role of gatekeepers like parents and community leaders. The mass media output produced was designed to contribute to National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA)'s national strategy on behaviour change communication (BCC). The BBC WST sought to complement the objectives and approach of SFH and recognised the potential for mass media to deliver important information to different audiences using different outputs simultaneously. By appreciating that audiences can be at many different points of the decision-making continuum, the BBC WST sought to respond to the variety of information needs of a heterogeneous audience. Within each of the project's outputs, thinking was informed by a range of attitude change, persuasion, and media effects literature. In particular, the BBC WST's approach to using mass media explicitly recognises the importance of stimulating interpersonal communication (IPC) in behaviour change.
The STOP HIV approach was based on the principles of social marketing, where entertainment is used to promote acceptance and recall of messages on sexual health. The BBC WST produced:
- Two radio discussion programmes - Flava and Ya Take Ne, weekly radio talk shows in Nigerian English/Pidgin and Hausa, respectively, explored issues around HIV and AIDS, sexual health, and gender. The programmes featured a mix of discussion, music, interviews, features, phone calls from listeners, and letters. Topics covered included: the stigma of being HIV-positive at work and at home, how to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child, HIV and marriage, family planning, women's rights, and HIV in schools. The programmes aimed to serve as an open forum for young people to talk about issues that concern them, including relationships, personal development, life-skills, youth culture, and sexual and reproductive health. Flava was broadcast in English by 50 radio stations, while Ya Take Ne was broadcast in the Hausa language by 35 stations.
- Radio and television public service announcements (PSAs) - Hundreds of PSAs were produced in Nigeria's 4 most widely spoken languages (English, Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba). The spots ranged in length from 30 to 60 seconds and drew on a variety of formats, such as drama, personal testimony, comedy, music, and celebrity endorsements to carry HIV- and AIDS-related messages. The PSAs were played on most radio and TV stations across the country.
- A television drama series - Wetin Dey ('What's Up?'), a 30-minute weekly TV drama series exploring the social realities facing young people in Nigeria. Fifty-two episodes were produced by a Nigerian team trained by the BBC WST, and broadcast at peak viewing times by the Nigerian Television Authority's network of television stations.
- Films - Stop HIV worked in partnership with the Nigerian video film industry ("Nollywood") to incorporate HIV- and AIDS-related messages into the storylines of a number of films. The films were produced (on low budgets) by local directors and production teams with guidance from the BBC WST. The storylines and messages of the films relate to HIV and AIDS, but do not focus exclusively on these issues and are designed to appeal to large audiences. Messages include promoting condom use and discussing discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. The BBC WST also took advantage of the fact that video films are well distributed across Nigeria, primarily through regional film "markets" and video clubs.
As part of STOP HIV, the BBC WST provided radio and television production training to broadcast partners. Radio workshops included training in talk show and radio spots production, and training in integrating audience feedback into programme production. Television and film training focused on script-writing, PSA production, editing, and production of reality TV programmes. In addition to teaching technical production skills, training courses promoted increased and more accurate coverage of HIV and AIDS in all media, and aimed to counter the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV and AIDS.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2006), one-quarter of all Africans live in Nigeria, the country with the third-highest number of HIV cases in the world (an estimated 2.9 million [1.7 million-4.2 million] people were living with the virus in 2005).
A baseline survey was carried out in 6 Nigerian states - Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Cross Rivers, and Enugu - at the beginning of the project to assess the media consumption habits of the intended audience. Midway through the project, a midline survey was carried out in the same 6 states to assess the impact that STOP HIV was having on audiences.
At the Asia Media Summit, "Stella", a STOP HIV PSA, won the World Award for best PSA on HIV and AIDS.
BBC WST and SFH, with DFID funding.
"Media and Behaviour Change: A Case Study of the BBC World Service Trust's 'Stop HIV' intervention in Nigeria - Midline Research Report", by Femi Akinlabi, Tim Cooper, Linda Nwoke, and Anna Godfrey - sent from Emily LeRoux-Rutledge to The Communication Initiative on October 1 2009; and BBC WST website, accessed October 21 2009.
BBC World Service Trust
This paper details the work of the BBC World Service Trust (WST)'s drama for development work in Nigeria focusing on the HIV/AIDS television drama Wetin Dey.
Email from Emily LeRoux-Rutledge to The Communication Initiative on October 1 2009.
United Nations University (Hall); Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy (CRISP; Sulaiman); International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI; Beshah, Madzudzo, Puskur)
Capacity.org, Issue 37, September 2009.
Women Building Peace and Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict-Affected Contexts: A Review of Community-Based Approaches
This United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) document focuses on specific thematic areas of good practice in the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and women's participation in peacebuilding. The study was developed as a background document to inform programming and advocacy within the context of UNIFEM programming, and builds on country-level visits conducted in early 2007. The programme is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The study looks at five areas of intervention:
The Women's UN Report Program & Network (WUNRN) ListServ, May 28 2009, and the UNIFEM website.
World Health Organization (WHO)
Email from Judith Kaufmann to The Communication Initiative on July 24 2009; image credit: WHO.
Launched by Communicating for Change (CFC) in 2009, Bayelsan Silhouettes is a film and capacity building project that includes the production of seven short films dealing with critical issues affectin
Bayelsan Silhouettes features seven Nollywood-style dramas directed by well-known directors in Nigeria. Each film looks at different aspects of life and love in the Niger Delta. Storylines include the Okada Union President, popularly called You no be Man, whose macho behaviour lands him in trouble, university campus life with its temptations and cults, and young puppy love in secondary school where characters Ovie and Sam have to bear the consequences of hiding their affair. The films include information frames on facts about HIV and AIDS awareness, prevention, and treatment which were developed in consultation with partner organisations: Hope Worldwide, Society for Family Health (SFH), and Family Health International (FHI).
The films (which are partly in the local Ijaw language and Pidjin with sub-titles) are being distributed to television stations across Nigeria. Film screenings are held in communities and schools, and the films are being distributed to community clinics, health centres, non-governmental organisations, and other stakeholder groups across the country. CFC also plans to screen the films on long-distance buses, and distribute the films internationally.
At the beginning of the project, the CFC team travelled to Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, and surrounding areas to develop local partnerships and work out logistics. The team visited many local communities, youth groups, organisations, and traditional rulers, informing them about the project and getting their opinions and advice. In-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) were held with young people (aged 13-25) and stakeholders to learn more about youth lifestyles, sexual behaviour, HIV and AIDS knowledge, and media consumption patterns.
The Bayeslan Silhouettes project included a capacity building element, where CFC involved local Bayeslan youth in the film development process, to give them a chance to make their own movies. Youth were selected after rigorous auditions and screen and writing tests were conducted in local schools to identify talent. Nine candidates were selected to take part in a scriptwriting workshop and were trained in dramatic writing, with two exceptional youth going on to act in leading roles in the films.
The print component of Bayeslan Silhouettes includes a magazine and a comic which are designed to support the films and their messaging. In addition, the Bayelsan Silhouettes website offers information on the films as well as information on HIV testing and living positively.
Bayelsan Silhouettes is part of a broader initiative, the Gbaran-Ubie Media SPDC Project, which also includes a radio drama series, "When Breeze Blow!," focusing on adolescent health, produced by the African Radio Drama Association (ARDA). According to organisers, the films and radio drama series are meant to edu-tain local audiences living near oil rigs in the Delta, as well as have impact on audiences across Nigeria.
Communication for Change (CFC) is a non-governmental media organisation which uses radio, television, print, market research, theatre, capacity building, and special events to help change behaviour and attitudes about vital social and environmental issues from an African perspective.
Communicating for Change (CfC), African Radio Drama Association (ARDA), Bayelsa State Action Committee on AIDS (SACA Bayelsa), Family Health International (FHI), National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), and Society for Family Health (SFH) Nigeria.
Email received from Victoria Humphrey from CFC on June 8, and Communicating for Change website on July 16 2009.