Museveni rescinds ban on state adverts after meeting broadcasters

KAMPALA, UGANDA: President Museveni has rescinded an earlier directive he gave restricting government advertising to state-owned media houses.

The development comes after a meeting earlier today with members of National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and media editors following a move by owners of private media houses to boycott government press briefings and functions over the unfair ban.

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 the President 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.

Soon as the directive became operational, the private broadcasters last month on July 24, announced the boycott protesting the move they described as arbitrary and unconstitutional saying it is detrimental to media freedom and the equitable distribution of public funds.

The broadcasters said the 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.

Now in a meeting with the broadcasters under their umbrella body, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) at State House, Entebbe, President Museveni agreed to rescind his directive on private media and said that UBC will also be competing for government businesses just like the other media houses without any presidential immunity.

President Museveni today met broadcasters under their umbrella body, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) at State House, Entebbe

The president further asked them to always be patriotic and avoid promoting politics of identity. 

During the meeting, also attended by the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Secretary to the Treasury (PSST), Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, informed the President that the private broadcasters were failing to pay staff salaries and taxes as a result of his directive to the Prime Minister in his letter dated 6th of March, 2023, in which he directed that all Government advertising business be channelled to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and New Vision. 

Mr Also accepted the appeal and asked Hon Baryomunsi to meet with the NAB team next week to harmonise the position on how they will be considered for Government advertising spending. He said that his directive was not intended to harm the private sector but to help revitalise UBC. 

The NAB team, led by Mr. Kin Kariisa, agreed that UBC needs special consideration and the President promised that the funding from government towards the national broadcaster will continue. 

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