Media owners have warned that if the government directive on limiting advertising to Uganda Broadcasting Services and New Vision stands, hundreds of people stand to lose their jobs.
Media owners, represented by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), presented their concerns to the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and National Guidance regarding the potential repercussions of the President’s directive on government advertisements.
Led by their Chairperson Kin Kariisa, the media owners appeared before the committee, chaired by MP Moses Magogo, to express their standpoint on the directive, which mandates that all government business advertising be exclusively directed to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and New Vision.
NAB strongly articulated that implementing this directive would have adverse effects, as more than 70 percent of private media’s revenue is derived from government advertisements. They cautioned that the potential consequences of the directive could lead to the closure of several media houses, further exacerbating the economic challenges faced by the industry.
Kin Kariisa, the Chairperson of NAB, emphasized the gravity of the situation.
“If this directive is enforced, it has the potential to jeopardize the livelihoods of a significant number of employees in the independent media sector. We must consider the wider impact on the media industry and its role in our society,” stated Kariisa.
In light of these concerns, the media owners put forward a recommendation proposing that UBC be transformed into a public broadcaster, funded directly through the national budget an approach, they argue, would better support the broadcaster’s public service function, as opposed to positioning it as a commercial entity competing for government advertising revenue.
Additionally, the media owners have called for the separation of Signet, the signal supplier, from Uganda Broadcasting Services. They propose that Signet operate as a purely commercial entity, which has garnered support from several legislators on the committee.
The National Chairperson of NAB revealed that media owners are taking proactive steps to address this issue.
“We are scheduled to meet with the President later this week to discuss our concerns and present our case. We are hopeful that the President will reconsider and revoke this directive,” stated Kariisa.
The media landscape in Uganda is undergoing significant changes, and this latest development highlights the delicate balance between government communication strategies and the sustainability of the media industry.
As stakeholders await the outcome of the meeting between media owners and the President, the industry remains in anticipation of a resolution that will safeguard both the jobs of media professionals and the public’s access to diverse sources of information.