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Bundibugyo radio stations introduce airplay charge for political songs

Radio Station in Bundibugyo have opted to charge for political songs. Courtsey VOB photo)

Bundibugyo, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Political aspirants in Bundibugyo District who want to use songs to promote their interests will have to pay for airplay.

Although the relationship between music and politics has existed for centuries, recent guidelines that banned open-air campaigns in the wake of COVID-19 made the two strongly entwined even in the very lower level politics. New compositions are released almost on a daily basis, praising candidates, and packaging their political messages to reach constituents through music. 

Traditionally, such songs would be played at no cost or often, an aspirant would offer a one-off tip to a presenter to have his or her music delivered to the studio and played. But this time around, radio stations and music libraries are tapping into the opportunity to make some extra money.

Development FM, one of the stations in Bundibugyo now charges 300,000 Shillings per month for each song to be played twice a day. The station has already received about five aspirants who have paid for their songs to get airplay. 

Longino Muhindo, a programs manager at Development FM told URN that they expect more candidates to invest in music to package their political messages. He adds that the fee will also aid the station to generate revenues that would have been gained from announcements and outside broadcasting.

According to Muhindo, the station is also adjusting in its schedules to accommodate political programs. 

John Kisembo, the program producer at Voice of Bundibugyo-UBC says the station management has had a discussion to charge for all political songs, effective this week.  Kisembo, however, says some of the clients have protested the move wishing their songs to be played for free.

Reagan Kalisa, a businessman operating a music library in Busunga town council says he has also opted to charge for political songs at his library.  He charges 10,000 shillings to play the song at least five times a day. Kalisa says he was drawn to the decision after realizing that several aspirants were asking him to play their music to reach his audience.

“I realized candidates come with CDs with their music to the library and thought of charging, I didn’t have it mind at first,” Kalisa says

However, Wilfred Asaba, an aspirant for the Nyahuka Town Council seat says the current model of campaigning will affect new entrants in the political field. Asab argues that many new entrants don’t have resources to invest in music and paying for radio programs.

In Bundibgyo District, production of a political song costs between 300,000 to 500,000. This cost excludes promotion costs. Some artists has also jumped on the opportunity to produce the music for the candidates and interest them to buy it.

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