The number of households that own radio sets has declined by 13.5%, a survey released by Uganda Bureau of Statistics has revealed.
Radio is a leading source of information in Uganda and there are over 200 stations authorized by Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) to broadcast in the Country. Radio sets have been common in almost every household in the past.
However, the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2019/20 released by Uganda Bureau Of Statistics indicates that the number of households that own radio sets is on decline sending shock waves to the broadcasters.
According to the survey on proportion of households with Information, Communication and Technology assets, at least 31.7% of the surveyed households owned a radio below 45.2% surveyed in 2016/17 indicating a 13.5% decline.
The number of households that own TV sets slightly increased to 19.2% in 2019/20 from 17.4% in 2016/17, whereas the households who owned mobile phones slightly declined to 73.8% in 2019/20 compared to 74.4% in 2016/2017 and less than 2% owned a computer in 2019/20.
The survey interviewed 13,732 households across the Country. The data collection was carried out in September 2019 to February 2020 involving 6281 household and July to November 2020 involving 7451 households.
When the Uganda Radio Network (URN) reporter on Friday visited about 10 households in Luweero district, majority revealed that they opted to own TV sets and mobile phones as sources of information than radio sets.
Ibrah Sekabira, a resident of Luweero town council says that he owns a TV set which offers both visual and audio content than radio which broadcasts only in audio messages.
Ronald Ssedumba, a resident of Binyonyi zone in Luweero town says although he prefers to watch TV but once in while he listens to radio content through his phone set. Others said they had abandoned radios over high costs of battery cells and lack of time to listen in.
Hassan Nsubuga, a resident in Kavule zone say that he owns TV, radio and phone sets. He however still prefers to use radio and phone sets than TV set.
The LC 3 Chairperson of Luweero sub county, Richard Ssimbwa says that despite the reported decline, radio sets are still many in households in rural areas and its major source of information. Ssimbwa says that phones and TV sets are more common in urban areas.
But Brian Semujju, a lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University said that in the absence of the methodological challenges, the findings imply that radios in Africa have faced stiff competition from newer sources of news/information in urban areas, while in the rural areas, radio has to compete with other economic priorities.
“ As COVID-19 continues to ravage the country, some households have to make a choice between buying salt, soap and replenishing radio batteries to listen to their favourite programs,” reasoned Semujju.
He said while the reported decline might send shock waves to the proponents of radio as a tool for development, radio owners can rethink strategies and embed on the existing newer technologies like mobile phones and the internet.