Steve Ayorinde abstract, Nollywood Project

Representations of the Nigerian Video/DVD Industry in the News Media

By Steve Ayorinde

Presented on Friday August 10, 2007, at a workshop on the Nollywood Film Industry and the African Diaspora in the UK, organized collaboratively by the Ferguson Centre for African Centre for African and Asian Studies; Open University; the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, and the British Film Institute.

To inquire into the representation of the Nigerian video-film and DVD industry in the Nigerian news media is to bring about the inter-relatedness between two major mass-audience artistic and economic enterprises. With more than two thousand released directly for home-viewing in 2006 alone, video-films have established themselves as one of the most dominant form of popular culture in Nigeria, perhaps sharing enormous media visibility on the same scale with the new wave of popular Nigerian hip-hop and rap music.

With the dawning of the 1990s, the discourse on arts and entertainment in Nigerian media assumed a somewhat high profile. This was mostly felt in the emerging video-film industry that was beginning to record increasing activities in production and alternative mode of distribution. As star actors emerge and known faces from allied television and stage-theatre sub-sectors became attracted to the ‘new’ industry, the media became the arena of re-production and transformation for the emerging industry.

Over time, with production activities becoming profuse but nevertheless sustainable, more pages dedicated to the film and video beat emerged in most newspapers and magazines; more hours of coverage and a whole new body of programming developed on television and radio stations across the country reporting the video-film industry. The emergence of a new crop of film critics that are staff journalists also developed as a feature of the new industry, raising the artistic and social construct of the new Nigerian cinema.

This paper examines to what degree print and broadcast media have played a role in the emergence of Nollywood as a dominant mass product. As will be seen, the social and economic functions of the video-film and DVD industry have always been the primary crucible of representation in the Nigerian media, perhaps because they are so dependent on advertising and circulation revenues. The paper will also touch on the emergence and decline of a number of ‘industry publications’ that have attempted to focus on the video-film industry but have nearly all failed to make economic impacts. The paper concludes with the hypothesis that Nollywood owes its popularity in the Nigerian media due, in part, to the deregulation of the broadcast media in 1992 and to the exploitation of the desire by majority of local audiences to see their own stories told by movie professionals known to them.