Uganda: Why the Hostel Was Suspended

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For more than two weeks now, fans across the country have been wondering why NTV's hit miniseries, The Hostel, has not been showing.

The only official communication Fasttrack Productions - the popular show's makers - put out to that effect was a brief post on their facebook wall informing fans that they had taken a Christmas break.

"We will be back on Monday 14th January 2013. Make sure you watch the show. It's going to be epic," read the December 21 post in part, which was not telecast on NTV, leaving millions of fans in the dark.

However, it has now emerged Christmas was only a convenient excuse to cover up for a pool of problems that had eventually forced Fasttrack to suspend the show's production and airing. The Hostel, which has largely courted positive reviews since its premiere in February 2011, may in fact not return to the airwaves any time soon, we can reveal.

Bosses at Fasttrack have intimated to us how they have been compelled to halt the show, whose fine production and cast endeared it to fans across Africa.

"The truth is that we have been having financial challenges ever since we had issues with two of our top sponsors," Fasttrack MD and veteran journalist, Conrad Nkutu told us. "High inflation rates have forced [sponsors] to adopt aggressive cost-cutting measures."

The Observer has established the sponsors in question are MTN and Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG) which halved and completely terminated - respectively - their sponsorship packages for the third season.

"We lost over 40% of the initial sponsorship package and this has hurt us so badly," Nkutu said, revealing only Housing Finance bank and Pepsi have maintained their original discharges.

Nkutu admits his company's choice to sell the show to sponsors rather than TVs might also have escalated their financial woes. The normal arrangement would have been that Fasttrack sells The Hostel to NTV. It would then be NTV's discretion to look for advertisers so as to recoup its money. But instead, Fasttrack opted to get its own sponsors and buy the hefty airtime of NTV.