You are on page 1of 2

Remarks

from the UBC Review Committee


Read by Andrew Kibaya the Committee Secretary

Hon. Minister of ICT and National Guidance, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT &
National Guidance, ladies and gentlemen; all protocol observed.
We were honoured and humbled by the opportunity to serve.
The general scope of the assignment involved studying the current situation of UBC with a
view to unearthing the root cause of its shortcomings and reviewing the structure, products
and processes to come up with recommendations that will enable UBC to realise its maximum
potential. This report highlights the likely causes of UBCs current challenges, identifies the
manifestations of the problems the corporation is faced with, and proposes a comprehensive
set of recommendations on how to improve the public broadcaster.
The report is based on the findings of a three-month long inquiry that gathered and reviewed
evidence (both oral and written) from the government, UBC, regulators, industry, political
parties, civil society, and the general public.
In general, the Review Committee found that UBC, which is now mired in debt, and can hardly
pay the salaries and benefits of its staff, has been mismanaged, chronically underfunded, and
not treated like a public institution of strategic value. There appears to be little clarity or even
agreement within key areas of government and the Corporation itself on the place and role of
UBC; many continue to look at it at best as a state or government broadcaster and at worst as a
ruling party mouthpiece. The character of the public broadcaster envisaged in the Broadcasting
Policy of 2006 is not fully embraced by the legislation and operations of UBC.
Over the years, the governments commitment to UBC has been half-hearted at best, with little
effort to guarantee secure, predictable funding that can allow for medium and long-term
planning. The broadcaster itself has done little to secure its independence and remain relevant
in the eyes of the public. The regulator has described UBC as completely irrelevant and
dysfunctional adding that it is just for giving people addresses. Indeed, UBC does not inspire
much confidence in its current form. But the Review Committee is of the considered view that
Corporation is a very important public institution with much strategic value. It should not be
allowed to fail.
The Committees review is based on the premise that UBC is supposed to be a public
broadcaster that serves and is accountable to the public; and that it is supposed to be an
autonomous institution that serves all sections of society, not only the government of the day,
driven by the key principles and values of editorial independence, impartiality, accountability,
distinctiveness, excellence, diversity and universality. Like all public broadcasters, UBC must be
funded by public funds (in a predictable manner) even as its management and board are

encouraged to pursue innovative methods of generating extra revenue to enable the


broadcaster deliver on its mandate. It should be recalled that the Broadcasting Policy of 2006
enjoins the government to adequately fund the public broadcaster in a manner that protects
[it] from arbitrary interference with [its] budgets.
The Review Committee is convinced, as the framers of the Broadcasting Policy envisaged nearly
10 years ago, that Ugandans will be better served by a system that supports public broadcasting
while at the same time allowing commercial/private as well as community broadcasting to
blossom. Only then can the public have the broadcasting/media pluralism and diversity that
democracy and development demand. If delivered well, public broadcasting can be a major
boost in the promotion of the rights of all Ugandans to access information as well as freedom of
expression. It will cater for remote regions of the country as well as certain genres of public
interest programming that private broadcasters are unwilling or unable to invest in were they
to be left on their own. Public broadcasting also remains critical in contributing to a sense of
national identity as well as reflecting the cultural heritage and diversity of Uganda.
The Committee is also mindful that in countries where public broadcasting has delivered a
democratic dividend, the government, the public, civil society, and the political class have all
played a key role in holding the broadcaster(s) accountable. Systems that encourage
transparency and the accountability of UBC to the public must, therefore, be encouraged.
While we make several recommendations in the report, we would like to reaffirm what the
Review Committee believes are the most important and most urgent broad reforms required at
UBC: a change management process to help the Board, Management and staff to appreciate
better and together embrace the true mandate of a public broadcaster; amendment of the UBC
Act to turn UBC into a true public broadcaster that is independent, serves the public interest,
and is accountable to the public; the establishment of a predictable and adequate public
financing mechanism to support UBCs long-term planning; and the restructuring of the
Corporation.
Finally, the recommendations in this report should be looked at holistically. In particular, the
Review Committee believes it will be counter-productive to pour public money into UBC without
addressing the legal, technical, governance, management and human resource, as well as
programming challenges we have identified. Some of those challenges require money, of course,
but others revolve around fostering the right mind-set. Restructuring and change management
are critical.
The Review Committee also recommends that the major decisions on the future of UBC should
NOT be a matter between the Minister and the Corporation. They should involve Cabinet,
Parliament, political parties, civil society, and the general public.
I thank you.