By Andrew Irumba
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), is set to meet HE. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in August 2023 to resolve the impasse brought by his directive of passing all government adverts to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).
In his order, Museveni ordered, ”…all Government advertising must be through the Uganda Broadcasting Cooperation. Any Accounting Officer who deviates from this will be sanctioned including dismissal. Print media advertising should be done through the New Vision. I, therefore, urge all Accounting officers to strictly adhere to the directive,” reads Museveni’s directive.
Now, the communication about the August meeting comes a few days after NAB through its chairman Kin Kariisa wrote to the President asking him to withdraw the directive or else all broadcasters would stop offering services to all government activities.
”This is to inform you that we have received a letter from the Principal Private Secretary to H.E the President confirming a meeting between the President and the NAB Executive on the 10th day of August, 2023 to find an amicable solution and we appreciate the gesture,” said NAB in a circular to all members.
However, NAB says not even the above communication from President’s Secretary can overturn their decision. They say;
1. The ban/blackout on the coverage of government activities, any government official, and/or event will and still continues until further communication is made after the said meeting with H.E the President:
2. We are aware that there are NAB members with existing framework contracts/agreements with various government institutions that are legally binding,
such contracts may continue and be implemented.
3. Government officials may be hosted at your discretion for purposes of balancing the news and panels only in compliance with your respective editorial policies, and Minimum Broadcasting Standards and to give value to your audience, but not to communicate government projects, initiatives, campaigns and plans.
4. There shall be no free airtime consideration on Radios, Online and Television stations to any government official across the country including RDCs, RCCs, LCs, etc. for purposes of making any government communication.
NAB believes that Museveni’s order to heap all government adverts to UBC is not only illegal but unfair and unjust to the Independent and free media.
”The President stated in his said directive that UBC is indebted and that there are some allegations of inefficiencies in its management that will be addressed at an appropriate time. Therefore, the attempt to convert UBC into a media agency in a competitive sector in which UBC is also a participant will not only be illegal but unfair and unjust to the Independent and free media,” says NAB.