Ugandan media coverage of the 2021 elections – January 2021 report

FDC presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat briefly detained by police on the campaign trail. Photo by Badru Katumba.

This report by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) focuses on Ugandan newspaper, radio, and television coverage of the 2021 election process. The monitoring was designed to cover all articles related to elections published in five newspapers, six TV stations and 35 radio stations  from 1–13 January

Among the key takeaways of the report are the following:

  • Newspapers carried more stories about incumbent Yoweri Museveni, while radio paid more attention to challenger Robert Kyagulanyi. The two top candidates attracted the same level of attention on television. FDC’s Patrick Amuriat remained third on all three platforms.
  • Most stories on Museveni were either about campaign promises, commissioning or launching of public infrastructure, or citizen demands, while coverage of Kyagulanyi focused mostly on the candidate’s strategies, arrests, or adherence to Covid-19 response guidelines. Stories about Amuriat focused mainly on candidate promises and arrests.
  • New Vision, which is majority owned by the government, and UBC TV, the national broadcaster, gave Museveni disproportionately higher coverage over Kyagulanyi. Once again, UBC gave more coverage to retired Gen. Henry Tumukunde than Kyagulanyi.
  • The leading private television stations, NTV and NBS TV, gave more coverage to Kyagulanyi than Museveni.
  • Overall, the radio stations monitored gave slightly more time to Kyagulanyi in their election coverage.
  • Museveni attracted more newspaper front-page coverage than Kyagulanyi. Although Kyagulanyi had been the subject of more page 1 stories than Museveni in December, the incumbent more than doubled the challenger’s coverage in January.
  • The campaign rally and stump speeches remained by far the biggest source of election news in newspapers and on television. Radio on the other hand relied far more on press conferences than campaign rallies.
  • Most stories that carried candidate claims or promises did not subject them to scrutiny.
  • There was no investigative election reporting in the two weeks before the elections. And the proportion of enterprise stories also decreased, leaving straight hard-news reporting to dominate coverage. Radio performed the worst on this measure. Newspapers did better, but only marginally.

Download the full report here – Uganda Media Coverage of the 2021 Elections (January 2021)

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