The State of Radio in Uganda: A 2020 Review and the New Reality of COVID-19

With over 309 licensed radio stations, numerous public and private TV stations, and rapid growth in internet accessibility and usage, the media landscape in Uganda is dynamic, diverse, and rapidly evolving. Ugandans across the country from rural villages to urban centers are presented increasingly with more channels to meet their wide-ranging information needs.

While radio remains the dominant medium of information for both women and men across Uganda, there remains enormous divides across the country that fuel unequal access to information and media consumption behaviors. The media sector is further challenged by poorly skilled media professionals, low quality journalism, a complex regulatory environment that is often not understood by media professionals and broadcasters, and high levels of self-censorship. The COVID-19 pandemic has both cemented the media’s position as an essential service provider, as well as challenged the sector, affecting advertising revenue, employment, the quality and quantity of content production, and the ability to meet the information needs of their audiences.

To investigate the state of the media sector in Uganda with a particular focus on radio, Internews adopted a mixed-methods approach that employed a range of quantitative and qualitative tools. Internews’ in-country research team conducted an extensive, desk-based review, deployed a quantitative survey using a call center, and conducted qualitative, key informant interviews (KIIs) with NGOs, government, universities, and media outlets across the country.

This comprehensive effort resulted in “The State of Radio in Uganda: A 2020 Review and the New Reality of COVID-19,” which provides critical insights on media outlets’ organizational strengths, weaknesses, and needs; their ability to collect, disseminate and meet the diverse information needs of their audiences; the professional capacity of journalists, editors and managers; the legal and regulatory framework; and how the media is faring as a sector in the new operating environment of COVID-19.