We Also Have Bills To Pay, Give Us Money Or No Services- Broadcasters Defy UCC Directive On Free Census Airtime

We Also Have Bills To Pay, Give Us Money Or No Services- Broadcasters Defy UCC Directive On Free Census Airtime

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: A section of media owners under their umbrella organization National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have declined to adhere to a directive from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) directing them to air free messages for the upcoming National Population and Housing Census 2024 (Census). This Census aims to collect crucial demographic data for informed decision-making.

In a letter dated 7, May 2024 UCC, the national regulator of media industry sent a letter across all media houses in the country directing them to broadcast a message recorded by the President regarding the significance and benefits of participating in the forthcoming Census.

Directive From UCC To All Broadcasters

”The Uganda Communications Commission (the Commission) hereby directs all broadcasters to air the above message during the period between 8th-20th May 2024 in line with the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance guidelines for provision of free government airtime. All broadcasters are urged to promote and support the National Population and Housing Census 2024 to make it a success” reads part of the letter from UCC to broadcasters.


Furthermore, UCC reminded media houses of their obligation to allocate airtime for coverage of national events and functions free of charge.

”The Commission further reminds all broadcasters of the obligation to allocate time for coverage of national events and functions as per schedule 6: Conditions of a license in the Uganda Communications Act 2013 and calls upon all media houses to comply and give maximum publicity to the National Population and Housing Census 2024” the letter added.


However, in response, Dr. Innocent Nahabwe, the Chairman,NAB, dismissed the directive, asserting that media houses cannot comply to such directives without appropriate budgetary allocations.

Response From NAB

”We stress that the expectation for media houses to comply with such directives without appropriate budgetary provisions sets a concerning precedent. Media organizations operate as commercial entities, paying licensing fees to the UCC, Taxes and facing financial obligations such as staff salaries and operational expenses. Deliberate budgeting for national initiatives such as the Census should be undertaken, akin to other programs of the Census that have been adequately budgeted for” Mr. Nahabwe stated in his response to UCC.

”It is on the basis of these considerations that we have regrettably declined to comply with the directive issued by the UCC and will advise our members accordingly. We respectfully request a reconsideration of the directive and an opportunity for constructive dialogue on how best to support the Census while addressing the concerns of media stakeholders” he added.


Nahabwe also highlighted that NAB has been actively engaging with various government institutions and parastatals to stress the need for deliberate planning and budgeting for media coverage concerning government programs such as the Census, but all in vain.

Furthermore, Nahabwe reminded UCC that broadcasters have been providing coverage for national emergencies, calamities, presidential addresses, among other events, free of charge. However, he emphasized that a pre-planned Census should be appropriately budgeted for, especially considering its ten-year planning period.

“The Census has been in planning for the last 10 years, and it ought to have been planned for accordingly. It’s important to note that broadcasters typically provide, coverage for national! emergencies, calamities, and national Presidential addresses free of charge, but a pre-planned Census should be budgeted for appropriately” he noted.

indoja-U (independent online Journalists Association) President Andrew Irumba Katusabe also urged his members not to comply arguing that UBOS received money for Media campaign.

“As president indoja-U,an Association for online Media/journalists, Inhere by urge all our members not to run free UBOS campaign, because UBOS received over shs144.3B to conduct the exercise,and media budget was included. If they can budget for mandazi, they can budget for media,” Irumba noted via his social media accounts.

Irumba’s post

More About The Census

Uganda is set to conduct the National Population and housing Census 2024 with the reference night being 9th May 2024. The Census will be done in 10 days starting on 9th May 2024 to 19th May 2024.

The President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, launched the NPHC 2024 activity on December 12th2023.  After every 10 years, Uganda holds a national census and the last one was carried out in 2014.

The census figures play a critical role in guiding planning, policy formulation, and programme implementation as well as monitoring development progress in line with the national goals and objectives.

The census exercise will use digital technology to collect, process and disseminate census results. The digital census will enable the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) to produce accurate and timely demographic, social and economic statistics.

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