By Senyonga Derrick
President Museveni is expected to meet with the National Association of Broadcasters and other media stakeholders today, Thursday.
This is in reference to his recent directive which requires all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to exclusively channel their advertising through the public broadcaster Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and state owned Vision Group.
The PSST, Ramathan Ggobbi emphasised in a July 10, 2023 communique that any accounting officer who did not heed to the directive this financial year faced dismissal from service.
Government decision to liberalise the economy in early 90s led to the proliferation of media houses with registered private-commercial radio stations in the country slightly above 300 by the end of last financial year. UBC only owns 10 stations of these.
Radio is the most accessible medium for information in the country with a footprint of over 70%.
Being a heterogeneous nation especially in terms of tribe and geo-location, communities prefer and rely on proximity community radio stations for information, education and entertainment.
People in rural areas develop strong personal and emotional attachment to their favourite stations and hosts making it a very important medium for sharing information.
Government is implementing several programs such as Parish Development Model (PDM), Emyooga and Youth Livelihood Program (YLP) where media plays an important role in mobilising locals to embrace and undertake such.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the role the media can play in promoting democracy and in health communication.
Government is the biggest advertiser and limiting its adverts to UBC and New Vision adds to the dire financial situation rural radio stations find themselves in given their inability to attract major corporate advertisers.
Many will likely close leading to unemployment if this directive holds which will in turn deprive rural masses of crucial information necessary for decision making and socio-economic transformation.
The writer is a media development expert.