Journalists reporting from Parliament under the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPP) have called upon government to consider setting up a special Media fund that would help the struggling media houses to keep afloat.
The call was made during the Ministry of Finance consultative budget conference with the UPPA members in Kampala.
During the meeting, the UPPA President Moses Mulondo noted that its time government sets up a media which would help cover the operational costs of the different struggling media houses.
“The media as the fourth estate is the only organ with no own fund; journalism is a public good and there is no media house that makes enough revenue to meet its operational costs,” Mulondo said.
Mulondo noted that, “The only best option for sustainable journalism in the country is public funding and this should be ringfenced to paying journalists since most of them are poorly paid.”
Mulondo said that Uganda won’t be the first country to do so noting that it is done in Scandinavian countries and several houses have accessed grants in the US to remain operational.
The UPPA president added that in the light of COVID-19, the media industry has been left bleeding and an immediate intervention is urgently needed.
On argument that the fund can compromise the media, Mulondo noted that this can’t be the case since political parties including those in opposition are funded by tax payers’ money but they have never relented on carrying on with their watchdog role.
“The Judiciary as well as got a budget allocation from the executive but this has never stopped them from ruling on cases that implicit government,” Mulondo said.
The journalists as well demanded that in the new budget, government should consider reducing the excise duty tax of 12% on Internet to 4% or totally scrap it because it affects journalism work and stifles growth of the ICT sector.
Responding on the concerns raised, the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija noted that the idea fronted by UPPA is such a brilliant idea which can be looked into.
Kasaija however implored journalists to work with government in highlighting sources of revenue and channels through which tax collections can be enhanced.