Editors’ Guild boycott govt briefings over Museveni directive on adverts

President Yoweri Museveni addressingt he country recently on TV (Photo/Courtesy)

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Uganda Editors’ Guild (UEG), a union of senior editors and media scholars has announced a countrywide boycott of the coverage of all government press briefings following a contentious ban on state advertising in private media houses.

The contentious directive issued by President Museveni on March 6, 2023, mandated that all government advertisements were to be channelled solely through the state-owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and the Vision Group.

In a press release dated Monday, July 24, the editors said the arbitrary and unconstitutional directive which has become reinforced by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance on July 10, 2023, is detrimental to media freedom and the equitable distribution of public funds.

“In light of the aforementioned concerns, the media will boycott government press briefings in protest against the unconstitutional directive on government advertising until a resolution is reached,” the editors’ statement reads in part.

According to the Editors’ Guild, the presidential directive is a violation of the liberalized economic trajectory adopted by Uganda in the 1990s, where public agencies are expected to compete fairly with the private sector for revenue and government business.

Citing Article 40(2) of the Constitution of Uganda, the editors say the law grants every individual the right to practice their profession and carry on lawful occupations, trade, and business.

As such, the editors have urged the government to abandon the directive and seek alternative solutions that promote fairness, transparency, and accountability in the allocation of government advertising funds and also engage with the concerned authorities.

The body also demands for a continued engagement between stakeholders in the media industry and the government to address pressing issues and find a constructive way forward.

They also suggest that a number of critical issues should be addressed during the forthcoming meeting that is expected to be held between the Executives of the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the President, slated for August 10, 2023.

Some of the issues that should be resolved during this meeting include; discrimination and unconstitutionality of the directive, monopoly and fair competition, rights of journalists and media professionals as well as transparency and accountability.

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