Urban TV staff laid off, programming restructured

The management of Vision Group has laid off about 60% of the staff at its Urban TV station. In changes communicated to staff on Tuesday, 4 December, Vision Group also announced a restructuring of the station’s programming that will include dropping its news bulletins.

The Group’s head of TV, Mark Walungama, said they will still continue to relay news, but in a different format.

“We are not out of the news, but we shall do it differently,” he said.

A day after the restructuring was announced, New Vision reported that Urban TV will instead “run scrolls of breaking news and current affairs”.

Walungama said trouble for the station started in 2016 when its revenues began to dip.

“If you are in the race of churning out new content every day, it becomes costly, unless you are a news channel,” he told ACME.

Mr Walungama said Vision Group will use digital technology to distribute content across various platforms, including by phone.

“We shall now depend more on enriched content using digital distribution channels to pass on content,” he told New Vision.

Urban TV was launched eight years ago and packaged as an infotainment station targeting urban youth. However, unlike its sister station, Bukedde TV, Urban never really picked up the pace to stand above rival English language TV stations.

In recent years, the station introduced a new programme called ‘Celebrity Edition’, using celebrities to anchor its Saturday 8.00 pm news.

Mr Walungama said they will do things differently by focusing on what has worked; dropping what failed, and introducing new content.

Urban TV’s Promotions Manager and Sport Anchor, Derekford Mugumisa, was among the staff laid off. He joined Urban TV in 2013.

Announcing his new status on his Facebook page, Mugumisa said: “Fam, I’m sure you’ve already heard about Urban TV’s laying off a big chunk of its staff today. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. My race at Urban TV has been run, and with no regrets I leave. At the end of the day, it is a business & it has to break even, I totally understand!”

Vision Group is one of the largest media conglomerates in Uganda. It publishes six newspapers –New Vision, Bukedde, Etop, Rupiny, Orumuri, Kampala Sun; three magazines – Flair, Bride & Groom and Toto; three TV stations – Bukedde, TV West, Urban, and six radio stations – XFM, Bukedde FM, Radio West, Radio Rupiny, Etop Radio and Arua One.

The Vision Group CEO Robert Kabushenga said the company “will do what it takes” to ensure Urban TV achieves greater success.

Harriet Anena

Harriet Anena is ACME’s Special Projects Officer

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