Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 2134 EAT on Sunday 5th March 2023.
The parliamentary commission has abandoned the radio and television project it was pursuing to enhance media coverage of business in parliament, and has now donated the equipment to the national broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).
Among the equipment donated to UBC are; two transmitters, a standby generator, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) automatic voltage regulators, band pass filter, change-over switch, equipment rack, antenna system and a feeder cable.
The decision was communicated by the speaker Anita Among, who also doubles as the commission’s chairperson while handing over the equipment to UBC management at her boardroom on Friday.
The other current members of the commission include; deputy speaker Thomas Tayebwa, prime minister Robinah Nabbanja who is also the leader of government business, leader of opposition Mathias Mpuuga, minister of Finance Matia Kasaija and four commissioners (backbench MPs).
The process to install the radio and television station for parliament had stalled since 2018 when the then leadership of the House under the former speaker, Rebecca Kadaga Alitwala lobbied for the project.
Adolf Mwesige Kasaija, the clerk to parliament who doubles as the secretary to the parliamentary commission revealed that the establishment of the radio and TV stalled because of disagreement between the commission and the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) over frequency.
There were disagreements on the frequency between Uganda Communications Commission and the parliament and therefore the establishment of the radio stalled for a long time. The current parliamentary commission reviewed the whole facility and was of the view that broadcasting and media things are not a core function of the parliament as an institution and therefore took a decision to donate this equipment to Uganda Broadcasting corporation,” said Mwesige.
Speaker Among revealed that the commission decided to give away the radio equipment free of charge to UBC in fulfilment of parliament’s corporate social responsibility because venturing into the media industry is not the mandate of parliament.
We’re an enabler of the bigger industry. Many people have misunderstood the issue – saying the other media houses are in competition with UBC. As a national broadcaster, we look at ourselves as the enabler of the private sector. And we want to thank the government that invested over $20 million in the equipment that we do have on the Signet platform. It is our prayer that we seriously look at how we complete the story of the digital migration because we shall be able to create space for employment for all the youths that are yearning to join this industry,” said Among.
UBC managing director, Winston Agaba, while receiving the equipment, said they would utilize the equipment to bolster their coverage of parliament to educate and inform the public to make better decisions and urged the government to first truck digital migration.
“We felt it wise as the current commission that instead of keeping these items idle and they are not put into use, we should hand over this equipment to UBC for them to be able to use and improve on their work. We’re doing this as corporate social responsibility, so we want to urge you to have a quality service, quality pictures, quality output and the expectation of UBC is even going to be higher now than ever before,” said Agaba.
The radio equipment was a donation to the institution by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) during the 10th parliament to enhance media coverage.
Then, Kadaga told legislators during a plenary sitting on March 7, 2019, that parliament had acquired 98.0 FM, one of the frequencies of UBC hosting UBC RED channel to operate the proposed radio station to cover Kampala and the central region.
Several journalists reporting at parliament applied for various positions at the new radio and TV station, but their dreams have now been cut short by the commission’s decision.