By Spy Uganda
For starters, on 23rd December 2021 Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) wrote to all media houses in Uganda DIRECTING (like they co-own their businesses) them to implement the ‘Presidential directive’ of offering free airtime to Resident City Commissioners (RCCA), Resident District Commissioners RDCA) and District Health Officers (DHO) to mobilize the masses to go for COVID-19 mass vaccination.
“The Commission hereby brings the Presidential directive to your attention and DIRECTS you to cooperate and facilitate the implementation of the above-mentioned directive on your airwaves,” partially reads UCC’s letter.
Although media houses have been previously adhering to such directives, this time around, a section of broadcasters under their umbrella association, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) across the country have resolved not to adhere to the so-called ‘UCC orders’ of free airtime under the cover of the presidential directive, when in his guidance he didn’t mention FREE airtime.
”What the president meant was that he wants the campaign to be carried out across the country and therefore relevant ministries and agencies must budget accordingly as they do for other service providers, not freebies all the time. We already give out free unlimited airtime to presidential addresses,” said one NAB member representing rural broadcasters on NAB EXCO.
In fact, NAB had earlier foreseen all these current COVID-19 waves and wrote to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja requesting financial support to continue airing COVID-19 campaigns something that the government ignored.
”We request for a supporting media budget totalling UGX 12,000,000,000 (Twelve Billion Uganda Shillings Only) to facilitate at least 200 radio stations, 50 Online outlets and 40 TVs and all our online platforms to drive this message in a coordinated, consistent and integrated to carry out a new round of media campaign tactically focusing on a simple but emphatic message; COVID is real, it kills and it’s next to you. Act Now or Perish,” partially reads NAB’s June proposal that the government ignored.
“The relevant government offices are busy withdrawing billions of money from Government coffers on account of fighting COVID-19, but the main tools (media) used to do the same are not paid, because they’re now hiding behind presidential addresses and directives. We’re not donors to Government. And this UCC familiarity of ‘ordering’ private media owners on how to run their private businesses must also stop,” fumed NAB Chairman Kin Kariisa, also CEO Next media services Ltd.
Another NAB member spits venom; ”I think we have done enough of good gesture in this fight against COVID-19, even when some of our broadcasters were sidelined, we all continued the campaigns.”
Meanwhile, NAB chairman Kin Kariisa has confirmed that by close of business tomorrow Monday will have put their objection in writing and delivered to all relevant offices.