The Committee on ICT and National Guidance is to consider a petition by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on the directive to have all government advertising carried on Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and New Vision platforms only.
In her communication on Thursday, 27 July 2023, Speaker Anita Among said she received the petition NAB which she referred to the committee for scrutiny.
“The petition regards the government policy on business to private media houses where all the adverts are supposed to only be given to one media house,” said Among.
In a circular issued by the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi on Monday, 10 July 2023, all government advertising must be through the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and New Vision.
Ggoobi’s circular followed a directive by President Museveni that all government advertising should be exclusively channelled through the state-owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).
Private broadcasters, however, say the move blocks them from benefitting from government advertising, and have since announced a boycott of coverage of government activities until the directive is reversed.
NAB’s Secretary General, Joseph Beyanga, conveyed the association’s stance, that they would not be giving coverage to government activities until the misunderstanding is resolved.
Beyanga argued that the directive on advertising amounts to an abuse of free speech and undermines the democratic processes that the government has been advocating for.
“The directive on advertising is an affront to free speech and the democratic principles that the government has been promoting. We are willing to discuss this matter, but until a mutually agreeable solution is reached, we stand firm in our decision,” said Beyanga.
The directive from the Secretary to the Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi, threatened to dismiss all accounting officers who fail to comply with the directive.
According to Bernand Ouondo, the president of Uganda Law Society, the directive appeared to contradict the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, which emphasizes principles such as non-discrimination, transparency, accountability, and fairness in all public procurement and disposal processes.
He said, “The government’s directive seemingly violates the East Africa Community Competition Act, which prohibits collusive market practices, market allocation, and barring competitors from accessing essential arrangements for competition. Furthermore, it hinders competition and equality as enshrined in the Constitution and Section 44 of the Act, which prohibits exclusion based on nationality, race, religion, gender, or any other criterion unrelated to qualification.”
The National Association of Broadcasters, Uganda, is the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters as the premier association for broadcasters, which advances the interests of broadcasters in the government, the business sector and the country at large.