Is UBC a national TV channel, a conduit of foreign interests or a misplaced entity?

Muhimbise George is a member of the Alliance for National Transformation (PHOTO /Courtesy)

By Muhimbise George

Yesterday I reached home at around 8:00 pm only to find that my TV subscription had expired.

When I checked on my credit there wasn’t enough money yet the nearby mobile money had closed. I was advised, its possible to watch UBC TV, which I settled for after all, it is a national television. To be honest, I only watch UBC on Wednesday during the popular program, “Behind the Headlines”.

When I switched on, the commissioner , national guidance and acting permanent secretary Ministry of ICT and National guidance was giving an account of the ministry’s achievements

This commissioner told viewers that the ministry had finalized a draft national guidance policy, which is to be tabled to cabinet for approval. He emphasized the need for patriotism, promoting Uganda and its values, warning that those who publish online, better do it responsibly e.t.c.

This show was followed by an MTN advert talking about Uganda and I said what a good policy! Am a Ugandan, I like my country, I have toured five of the nine national parks in Uganda, how would I go to tour other countries before even recognizing my own country?

I have always had little confidence in UBC, but I fell in love with it, thinking UBC is now doing the right thing. Little did I know that it was perhaps a mistake, just like the proverbial watch that is right twice a day.

Shortly after, UBC broadcasted a documentary about how Covid started in Huwan – China , how their hospitals were filled, their health workers medical interventions, deaths, e.t.c.

I asked myself, how many Ugandans are interested in watching that stuff? What are the strategic interests of UBC broadcasting a documentary of Covid in Huwan? What business are they targeting? What information do they want to give to the viewers? Or are they trying to be international? Has UBC broadcasted a documentary of Covid
response in Uganda?

I do not think they wanted viewers to pick lessons from China, in any case Uganda and specifically our leaders seem not to learn from others, they seem to have learnt nothing and forgot nothing!

Has UBC even shared the success stories, at least since we haven’t lost as many people as other countries? Then why would a sane producer or programs director rush to put a documentary of Huwan when our own story hasn’t been publicized?

After that documentary, they put some news bulletins that lasted for about one hour and then they put some movie. I think it was titled; ‘Die Hard’. Am not a fan of movies, but all I saw was people donning T.shirts of FB1, then I knew it was an American movie. I could not help wondering why a Ugandan national broadcaster promotes an American movie?

Imagine USA is being shown as a victor or conqueror in a movie broadcast at the Ugandan national TV, but go to Voice of America or BBC and see what is being aired about Uganda; Its either police brutality, poverty with malnourished children with flies entering their mouth and nose, or an outbreak of Cholera, Marbug or Ebola!

Lately, the media has been awash with stories of artists meeting Salim Saleh discussing how to promote their talents, can’t they start with UBC by ensuring that it broadcasts movies from Ugandan actors?

So I kept wondering, what kind of national guidance was the commissioner preaching when the national TV is itself misguided? What kind of patriotism was he preaching when the
public broadcaster is promoting foreign content?

If you watch a channel like China Global Television Network, (CGTN) they are broadcasting the infrustrcture developments in China, their influence and grand projects in Africa etc, and here UBC is broadcasting foreign movies and programs. What a shame!

One would argue that UBC is doing such madness to advance Uganda’s foreign policy, but how? Can’t we have a channel dedicated for that like we have BBC Africa, BBC Swahili etc?

If that was their niche, then how comes UBC is not thriving well as a business? For example in 2018, UBC was asking for 20bn to recapitalize it, how can that happen on a state owned media that gets contracts?

Moreover, all this happens when we have people seated in offices with big bellies but virtually doing nothing except stealing? Who bewitched Uganda?

Muhimbise George
[email protected], 0787836515

The author is a member of the Alliance for National Transformation Publicity committee

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