Uganda: New Vision Starts TV, Radio in October

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Vision Group is to launch a free-to-air television station and an FM radio for Kampala around October this year. Chief Executive Officer Robert Kabushenga said the group will also start a Saturday newspaper by the end of July and a business publication in October.

The initiatives, he said, were prompted by the pressure from the readers for unique content for Saturday that meets their specific information needs. The radio will focus on information and entertainment, which Kabushenga described as "infotainment".

The company, he said, had already concluded discussions that will lead to the purchase of ready-to-air television equipment, consisting of a transmitter, generator and a combiner. These are already installed at Kololo. "This means that before this year is done we shall be on air," he said. However, a number of regulatory clearances and collaboration details still need to be concluded with the regulators and the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, he added.

Kabushenga was speaking on Friday during a ceremony at the head offices of the Group in Kampala's Industrial Area on Friday evening, to mark the end of "a very successful financial year." He described the performance of the company in the last six months as "excellent."

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, an independent monitor of newspaper circulation, circulation grew by 6,000 copies during this period. On some days, New Vision outsold its closest competitor by 9,000 copies.

Website traffic has also continued to grow with over one million unique visitors reading the newspaper online every month over the last quarter. Unique visitors refers to readers who access the newspaper online from different computers connected on the Internet, or IP addresses. Because computers are typically shared, the number of individual visitors is much higher.

"We have now firmly established our dominant position with a comfortable margin and can build on that for further growth," Kabushenga added. "Our financial performance has been above budget, enabling us to exceed our profit before tax targets. We have recently made a significant tax payment, an indication of our excellent revenue performance. The new products will enable us serve the needs of our customers even better. This should lead to further improvements in our performance in our new financial year 2007/08."

The CEO added that the newspaper had also introduced other innovations such as the Education and Careers every Wednesday to help readers determine their future. "It is designed to assist them in making decisions that will enhance their chances or those of their children. It is also meant to build on the success of our jobs service and give even more reader value," he stated. The entry of the group into the electronic media, Kabushenga observed, provided an opportunity to the group to become the dominant multimedia player in Uganda and in the region.

He said the investment into the electronic media was accelerated by the need to serve the advertising needs of customers, who prefer "a one-stop centre for their media solutions." Consequently, Kabushenga noted, the company had made big investments to ensure that clients get the best quality printing services in Uganda.

"A combination of these media platforms will cement our position as the dominant multimedia house in Uganda." Ssekawungu, who had risen to the position of associate editor, had also been in charge of the rural papers, Etop, Rupiny and Orumuri.

(New Vision (Kampala), 1 July 2007)