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Kampala,Uganda:MPs back surplus funding to boost national broadcaster

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An extensive report by the Committee on Information, Communication Technology and National Guidance (ICT) has swayed Members of Parliament (MPs) into supporting for the increased funding to the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).

The report, presented by Hon. Tony Ayoo, the committee’s deputy chairperson and also MP for Kwania County, investigated the general performance of UBC, shed light on critical challenges confronting it and also find interventions to enhance the corporation’s effectiveness and relevance within Uganda’s media landscape.

“Over the years, UBC has experienced challenges in sustaining operations, and in the face of competition almost lost its status of a leading broadcaster for Uganda, which has occasioned realisation of low revenue insufficient to support its capacity of operation,” Ayoo said.

The national broadcaster was renamed UBC following a merger of the then Uganda Television and Radio Uganda and commenced operations in 2005. It currently operates 11 radio and four television stations across the country.

According to the committee, the positioning of UBC sites in far flung locations contributes to inadequate monitoring, slow emergency response to breakdown and inadequate security of the sites.

The committee also established that a problem of land encroachment affecting multiple UBC properties across the country, and disputes over land ownership documentation and encroachment by various parties are a hindrance to the corporation’s operations.

Additionally, insufficient resources, spanning human, technical, and financial aspects, have further impeded UBC’s operations and maintenance efforts.

Highlighting UBC’s pivotal role in providing information to the people of Uganda, the report stressed the necessity of government commitment to ensure its effectiveness and relevance in a competitive media environment. It urged prompt action on the proposed recommendations to strengthen UBC’s position as a vital information source and uphold its mandate to serve the nation.

“We need to addresses broader issues such as incomplete digital migration, coverage enhancement, enforcement of TV licence fees, and the deteriorating state of UBC studios and equipment,” he stressed.

MPs rallied behind the report, agreeing that the need for a robust public broadcaster that acts as the voice of the nation is necessary.

The MP for Bufumbira County East, Hon. James Nsaba Buturo, stressed the importance of strengthening the national broadcaster, referencing that the merger of UTV and Radio Uganda was meant to enhance viability as a national broadcaster while promoting national values.

Hon. Nasba Buturo contributes to the UBC debate. Between 2002 and 2006, he served as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting

Nsaba Buturo, as the the Minister of Information and Broadcasting between 2002 and 2006, oversaw the merger of the two government media entities.

Kitgum District Woman MP, Hon. Lillian Aber, expressed concerns over perceived risk of investing money without expected returns. She proposed that UBC operates as a business, generating revenue and delivering high-quality content.

Hon. Abdul Katuntu echoed this sentiment, urging UBC to be run both as a national asset and a business, free from propaganda. He queried the corporate culture within UBC and emphasised the importance of efficient management.

President Yoweri Museveni had not long ago directed that all government advertisements be done exclusively through UBC but rescinded the letter after he received a petition from the National Association of Broadcasters.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, who chaired the sitting, implored UBC managers to work hard and be creative.

Tayebwa, however, suggested that the committee should have conducted a thorough analysis of UBC listenership numbers, emphasising the importance of viewership in justifying financial investments in the corporation.

Source:Parliament of Uganda

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