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Proprietors of radio stations call 2021 elections a loss

Owners of FM Radio stations are reeling from the unmet expectation having waited in vain for the business boom that was anticipated during the 2021 Uganda general elections.

When the Electoral Commission announced the ban on open-air campaigns and directed that campaigns for the 2021 general elections will be conducted largely via media platforms, the owners of FM radio stations graced themselves for a bumper harvest in relation to campaign advertising. Indeed, a number of them even revised their advertising rates upwards.

SecretsKnown has learned that this expectation never came to pass. “When it was announced that campaigns would be “scientific” mainly on radio, Tv, and social media we celebrated and expected to make some good money as media houses,” said the Manager KBS FM radio Kamuli, Busoga sub-region, eastern Uganda.

The reality was difficult to take. Candidates in some districts shunned the media. Even when some radio’s provided free Talk shows, the response from candidates was less than expected.

The secret known is that the NRM flag bearing candidates were less willing to pay for radio airtime and yet the opposition candidates who were ready and willing to pay for the airtime, were often blocked by the security agencies and the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) from accessing the radios, even in situations where they had already paid for them.

In the case of KBS FM radio Kamuli, the only time they report to have hosted a high-level politician during the electioneering period, was the day the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga paid for the broadcast of Hon. Kasolo’s clarification on the Emyoga program. “It is difficult It is very disturbing as to why this time round politicians are not eager to pay for airplay”, said the BKBS FM, radio Manager.

In Iganga district, a similar situation was reported. NRM candidates and campaigners do not pay to go on air while the opposition candidates that were willing to pay, were never allowed anywhere near the FM radios. Even where they paid in advance, security personnel made sure they don’t talk to people.

In Jinja City, the situation was different because the NBS FM radio was reportedly booked for her popular Sunday talk shows until 26 January 2012. In Greater Masaka all talk shows on the three leading FM stations were paid for by the NRM party, presenters struggled to find guests from the party to be hosted.

In Sembabule like in many other districts where FM radio stations are either owned by government ministers or their cronies, opposition political candidates were almost declared persona non-grata.

And when it came to state-owned media stations such as UBC radio and television, the opposition candidates were allocated less airplay compared to the incumbent candidate. Overall other than the two leading national televisions and a handful of FM radio stations, many private media owners were left disappointed by the lack of campaign advertising business.

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