All is not well at Uganda’s largest media company Vision Group.
Top editors at the media giant are angry and confused with the new rule that will make them lose their salaries if found to have passed what NV Group concludes was a “publicity story”.
Exchanges between management that Watchdog Uganda website has seen, show express instructions from CEO Robert Kabushenga that editors should refer any potential money generation story to the sales department and failure to do so would fetch serious consequences to the errant editor.
“We have raised this issue numerous times and most recently we made it clear it is going to a very ruthless regime,” Kabushenga wrote to his senior managers an email titled “Publicity Invoicing” on July 23, 2019 at 8.05am.
He cautioned, “Companies are sidestepping advertising in the newspaper because they are able to present their publicity needs as news. It is something we are now taking very seriously.”
Kabushenga has instructed his protégé Angustine Tamale, the chief finance officer, to deduct Shs9 million from the editors who passed the ‘publicity news’ as a measure to stop passing such stories.
Watchdog Uganda has learnt that Tamale has already invoiced two top editors at New Vision and Bukedde.
The first victims are John Kakande one of the most senior editors at New Vision and Geoffrey Kulubya the managing editor of Bukedde, also one of the brains behind the success of the Luganda daily.
Watchdog Uganda understands that Kulubya failed the “PR” test four times and therefore has been served four publicity invoices amounting to Sh36 million. He published stories about Gen Henry Tumukunde planning to stand as Lord Mayor of Kampala which his bosses say were published to promote the general.
Mr Tamale, this website understands, is determined to deduct from Kulubya’s salary, of course one of the top earners at the leading Luganda daily.
Kakande will lose Shs9million from his Shs13 million gross pay to pay for the article about National Water and Sewerage Corporation which was published under the headline “NWCC constructs sewerage plant for eastern Kampala”.
The new project by the water utility is expected to improve livelihoods of thousands of people.
However, Tamale an accountant by profession, has put his feet down and insisted that the story was benefitting NWSC and therefore it should fetch a Publicity Invoice for NWSC or, Kakande who passed it should foot the bill.
However, editors are silently watching the moves of head of finance Tamale and the head of sales Hope Nuwagaba who they believe are playing with ‘fire’.
The Exco meeting called to resolve the stand off which Kabushenga called but missed, hit a deadlock as Hellen Mukiibi, a respected senior editor at NV group wondered why only one editor suffers the penalty while a single story is worked on by at least seven editors. She sought clearer guidelines on such deductions and how Tamale arrives on the judgment that such and such a story constitutes publicity and without news value.
Watchdog Uganda has also established that New Vision finance and sales departments are mooting a plan to instruct their journalists not to cover events of people, companies and organisations that do not advertise with them. According to the plan, a list of companies and organisations and people that give business to New Vision will be issued and given to reporters to study before they go out to cover events.
According to sources, this is one of the plans New Vision has come up with to return the newspaper to profitability.
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