By Joel Isabirye
Right now there is public outrage against the Ministry for ICT for requesting for billions of shillings for their covid media response.
Yet at the very beginning when Dr.Jane Ruth Aceng was the face of the preventive action, many asked: where is the Ministry of Information in these times?
Then finally the Ministry of ICT puts together its own response that has all of a sudden charged the public. It is understandable though.
It is true that most of the billions Ministry of ICT is asking for emerged from radio and tv stations who are genuinely scared of the economic melt down Covid-19 is beginning to create. In times of economic crisis the first expenses companies slash is advertising as they struggle to start afloat.
The media surely needs a bail out because it is a valuable partner in the fight against Covid-19. The challenge is many do not think any further advertisement is necessary. Partly because corporate companies already pushed the message using their advertisement quotas on different stations: MTN, Airtel, Stanbic etc were all over the place.
The media itself went above the roof in covering covid in news, special coverage etc…
There is no one who does not know what Covid is about today. That makesit difficult to justify billions in repeating the same messaging.
Yet the bare reality is in spite of this support for the health campaign, many media houses face a very certain possibility of closing shop. Yet they are needed. We do not know where this pandemic shall end.
Already this week has been the worst week for content in the electronic media. No events to cover, except Covid programming.
When you see uncut dwelling on weak content such as Full Figure’s argument with businessman Bajjo (what we call mono content…content that mainly appeals to or is only understood by few insiders…the actors and the presenters), you need to know that the options are few.
They cannot generate content because the activities that generate content are now restricted.
NBS TV is launching home learning…not only to respond to the changing times but it can also be a potential advertising property for Ministry of Education and education related clientele such as Bata, Picfare etc…
Still the options are limited.
Government should work out a bail out proportionate to reach of these stations. It is a very serious issue.
Uganda cannot be covered by UBC alone.
Pushing it as advertising appears to be very unpopular…but the reality remains. These media houses should stay on air, they are vital in the fight.
They need a bail out!
The writer is a media consultant