13 April 2014

Uganda: NBS, KTN Seal Television Partnership

Kenya's Standard group last week entered the Ugandan market, in a move that could heighten competition for television viewers.

Kenya Television Network (KTN), owned by Standard, sealed a partnership with Nile Broadcasting Services (NBS) TV, one of Uganda's fast-rising stations. A joint press statement issued by Joe Munene, the managing director in charge of broadcasting at Standard group, and NBS Chief Executive Officer Kin Kariisa, did not give details about the partnership.

"The collaboration will span content, journalist training and equipment. We are very optimistic that the partnership will serve the region better," the statement said.

At a press conference after signing a memorandum of understanding, Kariisa said the partnership would help the shareholders to create more wealth.

Munene said: "This is a milestone in the media industry in the region... it is a very strong collaboration [with which] we want NBS to cover news in Kenya as if we are in Kenya; we want to see the two countries in terms of news as if it is one country."

Kariisa said the partnership would help NBS to tap into the audience that comes with the growing number of Kenyan students enrolling at Ugandan universities.

"What we are talking about is a cooperation and a partnership, where we are coming together as equals," Munene said.

KTN comes to NBS with a 25 years' experience in the TV industry, while its parent Standard group is 102 years old.

"When you compare KTN and NBS [at seven years], this is a small baby... we bring to the table a lot of experience; we bring to the table a strong heritage and I think on the news front, there will be a lot of value to add to each in terms of skills, approaches, editorial policy and the content that we share," Munene said.

Already, some NBS journalists are set to travel to Nairobi for a three-month hands-on training, while KTN is also expected to send to Kampala a team of its journalists.

"It is basically about journalistic interests. We are looking at increasing the speed at which we do the work," said Joe Kigozi, NBS's public relations officer.


Being Kenyan, KTN will leverage NBS to tap into Kenyan advertisers, many of whom are targeting the wider East African market.

"There is a lot more in the MOU that we have not said here but this partnership also goes into advertising, given that most advertisers on the Ugandan market are Kenyan," Kariisa said.

Long process

It has been a long process, according to our sources. The two parties kicked off discussions last year, only for a breakdown in the talks. Sources at NBS have told us that KTN wanted to buy shares in NBS but was held back by the huge price tag the NBS shareholders put on their brand.

Later, NTV, under Kenya's Nation Media group, reportedly got interested in snapping up NBS. But nothing happened - until last week's announcement.

Standard group's entry in the Ugandan market is likely to increase competition for TV viewership, mirroring the Kenya experience, where Standard and Nation Media group (NMG) are serious rivals.

Besides NMG's NTV, the NBS-KTN partnership will have to contend with Vision Group's Bukedde and Urban televisions and WBS, among others.

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