Media operators represented by the National Broadcasters Association (NAB) have advised Ugandan artists to prioritize quality content production if they aspire to secure a prominent position on the nation’s airwaves. This counsel was delivered during a parliamentary Committee on Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) session, as NAB leaders contributed their perspective on potential amendments to the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act of 2006.
Joseph Beyanga, the Secretary General of NAB, rejected claims made by certain local artists regarding the limited airplay their content receives. He emphasized the necessity of ensuring that Ugandan artists create content that can rival foreign offerings, which some have criticized for dominating the airwaves.
“We must ensure that our artists produce content of exceptional quality that can compete effectively with foreign content, which they have been complaining about,” asserted Mr. Beyanga.
He also advised local artists to outperform their international counterparts, stating, “We select foreign content because our audience prefers it. If we are to serve our people, we must provide what they enjoy. We do not broadcast subpar content simply to meet a quota, potentially resulting in the loss of our audience.”
In support of his point, he added, “The media is a business, and we must guarantee that we attract the highest number of listeners and viewers.”
Andrew Irumba, representing online media within NAB, echoed this perspective. He claimed that much of the locally produced content contains explicit or offensive material, making it unsuitable for deserving airplay.
“These artists are urging you [MPs] to mandate that local companies use their faces, but when you visit their social media platforms, it is doubtful you would want to feature someone who is partially unclothed,” remarked Mr. Irumba.
Continuing, he argued, “…And then, in the future, they expect me to use them as a brand. The Ministry of Gender should take the lead and insist on better behavior, as their actions are having a detrimental impact on society.”
These statements emerged following a recent petition by a group of local artists presented on the floor of Parliament through National Female Youth MP, Ms. Phiona Nyamutoro. Their request was for their content to dominate all local stations. Nevertheless, Mr. Beyanga contended that meeting such a demand would only be possible if artists consistently produce high-quality content.
He stated, “The request that nine out of 10 songs should be Ugandan is not only unreasonable but impractical. Talent is globally recognized based on quality; if the product is excellent, we can play 10 out of 10.”
Gorreth Namugga, the Shadow Minister for ICT representing Mawogola South, recommended a dialogue between NAB and artists to establish common ground. She believed this approach would significantly benefit both broadcasters and artists alike.
“Have you ever convened a meeting to discuss this issue? After all, this is your industry. While the government is responsible for regulation, ultimately, this is your business. If it falters on one side, you will also face the consequences,” stated Ms. Namugga.
The ICT committee has scheduled a meeting with the Ministries of ICT and Justice and Constitutional Affairs for next week to create an informed report on this matter.