Uganda’s Kin Kariisa:” I don’t think 28 channels will survive. People are putting in money without getting a return”.

7 April 2017

Top Story

Kin Kariisa is the Executive Chairman of Uganda’s Kin Group Ltd, the holding company for NBS Television, Salam Television, Sanyuka Television, Screen Media, and Dreamcatcher Productions. Russell Southwood spoke to him about the state of the broadcast market in Uganda

Q: How did you get involved with NBS?

A: Around 2007 I had a friend of mine who bought and TV licence and secondhand equipment (to launch a channel). He wanted me to upgrade the channel and I put money in. I told him I would only come in if I had a majority, a 60% shareholding. Later in 2010 I bought him out completely.

Q: How did NBS get its number one audience position?

A: Before, it used to be three things, news and current affairs and sports. After the completion of the DTT transition in June 2015, no-one was going to have a niche in entertainment because there were so many channels playing films and telenovelas. So we invested in technology to remain relevant.

We decided to do talk shows, live events and have the ability to go live at any time. So we moved our focus to doing 60% news and 40% sports and doing more local content in these areas. People are very interested in local content and are very interested in current affairs and politics. There are 60,000 elected representatives in Uganda and almost everyone has some family connection to one of them.

Q: What languages is NBS using?

A: It’s 70% in English and 30% in Luganda. There’s an English news bulletin every sunrise and a bulletin in Luganda at 7pm. Overall there are three news bulletins in English and one in Luganda.

Q: I’m told you recruited quite a lot of talent from your competitor NTV?

A: We got people from all over. We got some from WBS before they closed and the New Vision Group and NTV. We brought in the right people for the job.

Q: What’s your audience share?

A: There are over 28 local channels so viewership is pretty much fragmented but in the lunchtime and evening segments people prefer to watch our live shows. We also have two other channels: Sanyuka TV that looks at the low-end of the market and Salam TV for muslims. We also own Dreamcatcher Productions (run by Martin Munyua) which is based in Kenya but has a partner in Uganda. (see link for interview with Martin Munyua)

Q: So what what’s the future of broadcasting in Uganda?

A: I don’t think 28 channels will survive. People are putting in money without getting a return. There are really only 3 companies running channels that are making money: ourselves, Bukedde TV and NTV. Between us we run 10 channels and can redistribute money between channels.

Q: So what will happen to all the other channels?

A: I don’t think they will keep putting in money without getting a return.

Q: What’s the state of the Ugandan advertising market?

A: There are very few companies that are advertising. There’s 28 banks but only 3-4 advertise. 25 insurance companies but again only 2 advertise. There’s the mobile operators. But the market is still growing.

Q: Has the rise of online affected your TV channels?

A: There’s been a lot of impact from online but it’s also useful for pushing people to make sure they watch our channels. It’s growing but it’s hard to monetize. We’re not getting a lot of money from it.

Q: What’s your social media reach?

A: We have close to one million people combined across all of our platforms. All of this growth has come organically and those numbers are all from within the country.

Q: What future expansion plans have you got?

A: I want to look at DAB radio broadcasting but we’re waiting for the regulator to move.


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