KAMPALA – At 104 years old, Mr Colliab Maswere has over the last 50 years been listening to his mall transistor radio set in his shop.
When he retires to his house, he goes with his radio set, sits in his chair and occasionally listens to the programmes of the day.
Although he has old newspaper cuttings inside his house, he has a lot of trust in programmes aired on his radio set and considers himself spoilt.
Whereas he has lost several items in his itinerant existence no matter where he has been, a transistor radio has always accompanied him.
His tiny radio perches atop an old shop shelves, and on this Saturday morning there are voices of encouragement — every turn of the knob yields a preacher, or some uplifting music. Maswere smiles throughout the day as he listens to his radio set.
“Now, before I do anything I must listen to my radio set,” he says as the knob settles on a local Radio FM [Open Gate FM]-a Lumasaaba [Lugisu] language frequency where a cheerful and lively male presenter is exulting the morning.
“In the past, I could hardly find anything but English and Luganda; but now I can’t choose where to stop because there are so many (that) speak to me in my local language”
Mr Maswere is not alone, there are thousands of listeners around the country with an affinity similar to that and it is as much about an emotional attachment to the radio as it is about practicality.
Analysts suggest that the radio remains the most trusted source of information and preferred medium for disseminating information.
This comes at a time UNESCO also announced February 13 as World Radio Day — a day marked to celebrate the radio and the role it continues to play in supplying the masses, even in the remotest corners of the world, with information.
The finding comes at the time a survey by Twaweza’s flagship Sauti za Wananchi survey based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey also indicated that Radio still remains the most trusted source of information in Uganda.
The data findings are based on data collected from 1,796 respondents across Uganda from September to October 2019, further details are available from www.twaweza.org/sauti
This data packet presents citizens’ views and experiences on media and freedom of expression in Uganda and what types of media do citizens access most often, and which do they trust most? Do they feel they should have the right to criticise their leaders? Do citizens feel the media and journalists do a good job?
Radio dominates as a source of information
The survey by Twaweza’s flagship Sauti za Wananchi survey revealed that three out of four citizens (74%) radio is their main source of information, well ahead of any other media type while TV followed with around one out of ten citizens (13%) citing this.
The data report accessed by PML Daily reveals that there has been a slight shift over the past two years, with radio declining slightly and TV increasing slightly, but the change is small land that few citizens depend primarily on other sources.
“Radio is also the most trusted source and six out of ten citizens (60%) say they trust completely what they hear on radio, more than any other source, though closely followed by public meetings (58%). And TV (45%) is also widely trusted, though one out of three citizens (33%) don’t watch often enough to have a view,” reads the report released this week in part dated April 28.
The data says that In terms of channels, radio is both the most popular (the main source of information and the most trusted type of media [completely trust what they hear on radio] and that other sources of information are cited by far fewer people when compared to radio: television (13%), word of mouth (5%) and meetings, social media or the internet all used by 1 out of 50 (2%) as their main source of information. However citizens do trust what they hear at meetings (58%) and what they see on television (45%).
The Manjiya County MP Mr John Baptist Nambeshe said It is true that the dialing knob has evolved over the years since the radio appeared on the scene over a century ago and I want to state that it is still best most trusted media of communication..
“The 20th century saw the explosion of the radio from a luxury and primarily entertainment item to one with enormous commercial potential and appeal, particularly with paid advertisements and today it remains the most trusted source of information people believe in,” said Mr Nambeshe.
Mr Richard Masereje an Advocate and Chartered Valuation Surveyor and a managing Partner at Masereje & Co Advocates said radio still stands as the most widely trusted medium of communication across the world especially in rural poor communities where TV is not.
The Twaweza’s flagship Sauti za Wananchi survey also says when it comes to media freedom, views are more mixed and that citizens are evenly split on whether media should operate with or without government control, although in all areas a small majority support operations without restriction.
“And more generally, 54% agree that the media should be able to publish content without government control while 46% think that government should have the right to prevent publication of content it sees as harmful,” reads the report in part.
The data says that despite mixed views on media freedom, most citizens think that the media should report on government mistakes and corruption (80%) while one out of five (20%) think that this can be harmful to the country.
Ms Marie Nanyanzi of Sauti za Wananchi at Twaweza, said the data presents an overall picture that Ugandans see the media making a positive contribution to their lives but that they are divided on how much the government should be able to restrict the media.
“And nonetheless significant portions of the population believe that media should have the freedom to report openly and honestly especially when it comes to providing feedback to government. They claim this right for themselves as well.” Said Ms Nanyanzi.
Ms Violet Alinda, Country Lead for Uganda at Twaweza’s Sauti za Wananchi called upon citizens to reflect on World Press Freedom Day in these unprecedented times, we must remember the importance of access to information and freedom of expression.
“These are the two critical pillars on which a vibrant media is built, look at the Covid-19 pandemic; we can only fight it well if we are all well-equipped to play our part. Accurate information is a critical tool,”. Alinda said.
“Moreover, government will need open and honest feedback to understand if the response strategy is working, whether all components are working in harmony and to highlight areas that need attention,” said Ms Alinda added.
She appealed to journalists to not only celebrate and advocate for their freedom to operate but that they should also take a moment to remember that our brothers and sisters in the media are continuing to risk their lives to do their jobs. We salute them.
Twaweza works to demonstrate how citizens can come together to collectively address their problems, and make government work better for them; enable citizens’ voices, interests and experiences to be heard and taken seriously in decision-making; promote and protect open civic space which enables citizens to freely assemble or organise, speak and act in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. We have programs, staff and offices across all three countries, and a globally respected practice of learning, monitoring and evaluation. Our flagship programs include Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative mobile phone survey. We undertake effective public and policy engagement, through powerful media partnerships and global leadership of initiatives such as the Open Government Partnership. Follow us at Twaweza Uganda (Facebook), @TwawezaUganda (Twitter), Twaweza East Africa (Instagram).