Minister Tumwebaze Receives UBC Report, Govt to Inject Ugsh 20Bn

The Minister of ICT Frank Tumwebaze has challenged the public broadcaster Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) which runs a radio and television to set the pace in professionalism for the entire media industry in Uganda.

He said that since UBC is funded by public funds, order it should serve the public interests, undertake research and cover news in a balanced manner.

Tumwebaze on Tuesday received the report containing the findings of the committee that investigated the challenges impeding the growth of the broadcaster.

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“UBC TV was one of the things that intrigued me upon my appointment as a Minister of Information. There’s no contest that it had issues even before I appointed the review committee, ” he said.

“The report is detailed. We are going to study it and use it as a scan to understand how to restructure UBC TV. The rationale of supporting the television with tax payers’ money is so that it can tell the story in all angles and do research. Just like UK’s public broadcaster BBC, UBC TV shouldn’t be commercial.”

Like the committee, the Minister wants UBC to work independently like the New Vision newspaper and other parastatals but added that “this should not mean immunity from oversight.”

Cabinet has agreed to pour an initial fund of Ugshs 20 billion towards upgrading the broadcaster, according to the Minister. The one-off fund will be used to procure efficient equipment among other necessary infrastructure.

The report found UBC TV to be heavily indebted, mismanaged and unable to sustainabily finance its operations. The regulator (UCC) rendered UBC as having done little to secure its independence, is completely irrelevant and dysfunctional.

In its recommendations, the committee proposes that; the UBC Act be amended to make the institution more independent, restructure the Corporation, find ways of sustaining financing and to change management.

Media expert, Peter Mwesige who headed the review process said; “UCC must regularly keep UBC TV in check like it does to private broadcasters. We want to put public funds into something that benefits everyone.”

He further hinted on the need for transparency in the selection process of the UBC Board and to work independently from government both in its editorial and institutional functions.

As of today, UBC West a channel that broadcasts in Runyankole, Ruyakitara, Rukiga and Rutooro languages is off air due to failure to pay for satellite fees. The Minister said this was part of the problem.


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