TV stations refuse to air Museveni’s census message for free


Recently, Uganda’s TV and radio stations faced a tough decision: whether or not to air a message from President Yoweri Museveni about the upcoming national census. This message aimed to encourage Ugandans to participate in the census, which is crucial for government planning. However, the broadcasters chose not to air the message, citing a lack of funding from the government.

The National Housing and Population Census is an important event in Uganda, organized by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). It aims to collect data about the country’s population and living conditions. This information helps the government make informed decisions about public services and resource allocation.

President Museveni recorded a video message to urge Ugandans to participate in the census. He highlighted the importance of providing accurate information to the data collectors. However, the message faced challenges in being broadcasted by private TV and radio stations.

Despite a directive from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to air the president’s message for free, the broadcasters’ association refused. They argued that without proper funding from the government, they couldn’t comply with the directive. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) emphasized that while they support national events during emergencies, they expect funding for planned events like the census.

The government declared Friday a public holiday to ensure maximum participation in the census. However, the refusal of private broadcasters to air the president’s message posed a challenge. The UCC reminded broadcasters of their obligation to provide free airtime for national events but respected the broadcasters’ decision.

The NAB chairman explained that private broadcasters operate as commercial entities, paying fees and taxes to the government. They also have other financial obligations, such as staff salaries. Without proper funding for airing the president’s message, complying with the directive would set a concerning precedent for the industry.

Uganda’s upcoming census will be the sixth national census, utilizing digital systems for the first time. The previous census in 2014 estimated the population at 36 million, but it’s believed to have since risen to about 45 million. Gathering accurate data is crucial for effective government planning and resource allocation.

The decision of Uganda’s TV and radio stations not to broadcast President Museveni’s census message highlights the importance of adequate funding for national initiatives. While the government declared a public holiday to encourage participation, broadcasters emphasized the need for financial support to fulfill their obligations. As Uganda prepares for its sixth national census, ensuring widespread participation and accurate data collection remains a top priority for government and industry stakeholders alike.


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