By Juliet Nalwooga
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has declined to offer free airtime to the government to sensitize the public on COVID-19 vaccination.
The government, through the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in a letter signed by Suzan Wegoye, the UCC acting executive director, had demanded free airtime on radio and TV stations every Wednesday at 8pm and Sunday between 8:00 and 8.30pm “to mobilize the masses to go for COVID-19 vaccinations.”
The commission said it was implementing a directive issued by President Museveni on November 15.
However, in a response letter dated December 27th 2021, NAB chairperson Kin Karisa, says given the devastating impact that the pandemic has on the media industry, the government needs to book and pay for the airtime.
Karisa stressed that media services should be paid for just like government caters for other services like vaccine procurement, tents and ambulances.
The broadcasters also argue that the media has already made a significant contribution to the mass vaccination campaign through its editorial content.
Despite numerous vaccine donations and procured Covid-19 vaccines, there is still relative vaccine hesitancy, with some security officers recently reported to have resorted to forcing people to present vaccinate cards before traveling upcountry.