The Nation Media Group is set to launch state-of-the-earth television and radio studios in Eldoret to expand its regional coverage to tap opportunities offered by devolution ahead of the 2017 elections.
The studio will also come in handy in case Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni clamps down on the TV station in the lead-up to and after the country’s February 18 General Election, because of its independent coverage. The studios will be used to transmit signal to NTV in Kampala if the Ugandan government switches it off.
NMG is racing against time to have the studios operational by election time to cover the keenly watched elections. The studios will be housed at the 27-storey Moi University Plaza in Eldoret town. There have been delays in finishing up the Moi University Pension Scheme Plaza could hold back the plans. The building is ideal as it is taller and has adequate space.
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NTV Uganda has previously been closed down twice. In 2014, it was temporarily banned from covering presidential events after it broadcast images that showed Museveni snoozing in Parliament. Dennis Katungi, the government’s media centre manager, claimed he was meditating.
In 2007, months after it ventured into the country, it was cut off from using transmitter of the state broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, with the Broadcasting Council claiming its weight was a “safety risk.”
After four days it was reopened and then shut down again for “noncompliance with the industry’s technical standards.” In 2013, Daily Monitor and two sister radio stations, KFM and Dembe FM, also owned by Nation Media Group, were shut down for several days after publishing a letter by Gen David Sejusa, who had fled to London.
Apart from the coverage of the Ugandan elections, NMG has a long-term plan of setting up more studios to cover events within different regions in Kenya. Similar studioes will be set up in Mombasa and Kisumu. The studios will be used to produce content for NTV, QTV, Nation FM and QFM, which will then be sent to the main studios at Nation Centre in Nairobi as a complete package.
Live interviews will also be conducted at the regional studios and the signal transmitted to Nation centre studios in Nairobi instead of guests traveling all the way to Nairobi or NTV sending its outside broadcast (OB) van out to the venues. The strategy is seen as targeting to cash in on counties, which have become attractive sources of advertising revenue.