Today marks a significant moment in my life, as I stand before you to bid farewell as the Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters Uganda. It has been an incredible 2 terms bisanja with further extension due to the Covid-19 period, as chairman of NAB and one as Vice Chairman, a journey, filled with challenges and triumphs, and I am deeply grateful for all the opportunities, memories, and lessons I gained along the way.
Special thanks to the great teams I have worked with that have helped me frame the legacy I leave behind. A legacy of advocating for policy change, positioning NAB as the advocate of Independent Media, voicing concerns, and fighting for nationalistic principles that are central to the media industry. Certainly not a quiet one, but I’m sure if it was dull and unsuccessful, I would not have been reelected for the terms. Unless maybe my fellow broadcasters also enjoy a little violence.
- Media Freedoms
We have registered a great deal of success in reducing the incidence of violence meted out to journalists in the line of duty and we have worked tirelessly to uphold the principles of media freedom and independence. Through strategic collaborations, engagements, and advocacy efforts, we have championed the cause of journalists, ensuring they can operate without fear and report the truth to the public.
- Communications Tribunal
This has been alongside our advocacy for the establishment of the Communications Tribunal to facilitate the relationship between Government, our regulator UCC and ourselves as broadcasters. Following the presentations to the Parliamentary ICT Committee and the ministry, we have come close to seeing a panel appointed for this cause and we believe that we shall see it come to fruition soon.
- 2% Levy on gross
We have also managed to engage UCC on the law of a 2% levy on the gross that was misallocated due to a generalization in the laws that govern Telecoms and Broadcasters and can gladly say that we have ensured that no broadcaster has been subjected to paying it. We do however hope to see it scrapped to avoid any further confusion following the assurances from the Parliamentary ICT Committee and the sector ministry
- Subsidizing Signet & Signal Distribution Challenges
To further empower our broadcasters, we have actively lobbied for the Government to subsidize Signet, our signal infrastructure partner through capacity building and acquisition of equipment. There have however been signal challenges with the quality of signal broadcasters have been getting from Signet mainly because their equipment has reached the end of life. To tentatively address this, we met the management and negotiated reducing the subscription charge from 12 million to 5 million but it is yet to be implemented.
- NAB Secretariat to address compliance
Additionally, we have successfully spearheaded the amendment of the NAB Articles to introduce the Secretariat and a Trustees Advisory Board. The Secretariat will, going forward ensure compliance of members with NAB guidelines with an emphasis on adding value to the NAB service offering.
- Unity among associations and broadcasters
One of our greatest achievements so far perhaps has been the fostering of unity and collaboration among broadcasters. By providing a platform for open dialogue, we have strengthened our collective voice, enabling us to address common challenges and seize opportunities as a united front. Furthermore, we have created cohesion with other associations like RUBA, UMOA, and the Editor’s Guild among others who have 2 executives each as members of NAB.
As a fruitful day brings peaceful sleep, so does looking back at these achievements brings pride to a retiring chairman. So, as I hand over, I am confident that we have got some things right and set the path for the success of others. There is however still work to be done…
- Citizen Journalism & Misinformation, AI
A key challenge broadcaster is facing is the emergence of technological advancements. As we embrace innovation, we must also navigate the disruptions it introduces, always striving to stay ahead and adapt to the evolving needs of our audience Tech like AI for example is a double-edged sword that has enabled the growth of citizen journalism and with it a great deal of misinformation. Having such outlets largely unregulated is counterintuitive to what we are trying to achieve and the growth of proper journalism.
- Media viability as a business
This is also an aggravation to the financial sustainability of our industry which remains a pressing challenge. Economic uncertainties and changing consumer behaviors have presented obstacles that demand innovative revenue models to ensure the continued growth and stability of our broadcasters.
- Government budget for media and delayed payments
As if salt in the wound, the government’s modest budget for media coupled with delayed payments from clients in Government, private sector, and agencies are all factors that are leaving broadcasters barely holding on. We have constantly advised that government should plan and budget for media the same way they do for chairs and tents… communicating government projects is key
- Understanding the mandate of each association
There’s a greater necessity to streamline the mandate of each Broadcast and media association and a need to foster a better understanding of their purpose and directive by the members of these associations, as you know we have NAB, RUBA, UMOA, Editors Guild, etc. to have a stronger voice, lets consistently advocate for unity than division
- Looming Conflict between Artists & Media & Copyright
Furthermore, the looming conflict between artists, creators, and media needs to be addressed with foresight to avoid bottlenecks that could arise. This, alongside clear guidelines on copyrights and conversations on reparations through their various collecting societies and Associations, with the latest being a Federation.
- Over & Under Regulation
As appreciative as we are of well-structured regulation, we still face challenges in shaping an ideal regulatory framework for the broadcasting sector. Balancing the interests of the public and the flexibility required for broadcasters to thrive is an ongoing effort that demands our continued attention. This can be managed by avoiding areas of over-regulation that fetter our ability for impartiality in communicating as well as areas of under-regulation that hinder quality assurance.
- Research & Media Monitoring
The media landscape is slippery and constantly shifting, so there is a need for consistent media monitoring to watch for growth or the lack thereof. It is also critical to monitor to ensure that we all communicate with a common goal of the development of our people and country as supported by in-depth research.
As I retire from the position of Chairman allow me to pass on the batonwith full confidence in the resilience and capabilities of the National Association of Broadcasters. Together, we have built a strong foundation, and I am optimistic that under new leadership, the association will continue to thrive, overcoming challenges and achieving even greater heights.
I extend my deepest gratitude to every one of you for your unwavering support, dedication, and commitment to the success of our association. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve alongside such a talented and passionate community.
As I step into the next chapter of my life, I carry with me the fond memories of our shared accomplishments. May the National Association of Broadcasters continue to be a beacon of excellence and a force for positive change in the broadcasting industry.
Thank you, and may the future bring continued success and prosperity to us all.