Parliament Urges Enhanced Support for Uganda Broadcasting Corporation

An exhaustive report from the Committee on Information, Communication Technology, and National Guidance (ICT) has persuaded Members of Parliament (MPs) to advocate for increased funding for the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).

The report, presented by Hon. Tony Ayoo, the committee’s deputy chairperson and MP for Kwania County, delved into the overall performance of UBC, illuminated critical challenges it faces, and proposed interventions to enhance the corporation’s effectiveness and relevance in Uganda’s media landscape.

“Over the years, UBC has grappled with sustaining operations, and in the midst of competition, it nearly forfeited its status as Uganda’s leading broadcaster, resulting in low revenue insufficient to sustain its operations,” Ayoo remarked.

The national broadcaster was rebranded as UBC following the merger of Uganda Television and Radio Uganda in 2005, currently operating 11 radio and four television stations nationwide.

According to the committee, the placement of UBC sites in remote areas leads to inadequate monitoring, sluggish emergency response, and insufficient site security.

The committee also identified land encroachment as a significant problem affecting numerous UBC properties nationwide, with disputes over land ownership documents and encroachments hindering the corporation’s operations.

Moreover, insufficient resources, including manpower, technical support, and financial backing, have further hampered UBC’s operations and maintenance efforts.

Emphasizing UBC’s crucial role in disseminating information to Ugandans, the report underscored the government’s obligation to ensure its effectiveness and relevance in a competitive media landscape. It urged prompt action on proposed recommendations to bolster UBC’s role as a vital information source and uphold its national mandate.

“We need to address broader issues such as incomplete digital migration, expanding coverage, enforcing TV license fees, and improving the deteriorating state of UBC studios and equipment,” Ayoo emphasized.

MPs endorsed the report, agreeing on the necessity of a robust public broadcaster that serves as the voice of the nation.

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

Hon. Lillian Aber, Kitgum District Woman MP, raised concerns about investing money without commensurate returns, suggesting that UBC operates as a business generating revenue and delivering high-quality content.

Hon. Abdul Katuntu echoed this sentiment, urging UBC to function both as a national asset and a business devoid of propaganda. He questioned the corporate culture within UBC and stressed the importance of efficient management.

Recently, President Yoweri Museveni directed that all government advertisements be channeled exclusively through UBC but rescinded the directive after receiving a petition from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, who chaired the session, urged UBC managers to work diligently and creatively. He suggested that the committee should have conducted a comprehensive analysis of UBC viewership figures, highlighting the importance of audience metrics in justifying financial investments in the corporation.