Uganda’s television industry continues to get competitive each passing day – with the opening of several new stations. Buganda Broadcasting Services (BBS) Telefayina is one of the new entrants, having gone on the airwaves in December last year.
Located on Masengere building in Mengo-Bulange, the television, which is highly anticipated to be the game changer of the Luganda televisions, will officially be unveiled tomorrow by the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II. BBS TV’s CEO JOE KIGOZI spoke to Andrew Kaggwa about what the station has in stores for Ugandans.
They are all called televisions. Why do you call BBS telefayina?
We have used the word telefayina because Luganda is so rich, and we have a lot of identity with the language. Thus, telefayina is a replacement of television. You will not refer to us as BBS Television; you can if you want to use English, but as per our license and wish, we ensure that we are BBS Telefayina.
Who owns BBS?
It is owned by the Buganda kingdom. It is a television that has been asked for by the people of Buganda for the past 20 years. People have yearned to have a TV station, and the kingdom has listened to their call and offered them a television – that is why our tagline is “Telefayina Eyaffe”, meaning that people own it.
The kingdom has worked so hard for the past 20 years to see that this TV comes to us. Some people have come out and claimed that they are TVs owned by the kingdom, but this is the only official one owned by the kingdom. And true to that, you have heard the kingdom spokesperson, Noah Kiyimba, and the Katikkiro talk about it.
The Kabaka, himself, has accepted to launch it as part of his celebrations to mark his 61st birthday. So, that is a reaffirmation; the Kabaka has never launched a television before.
But why has it taken you so long to respond to the people’s demand?
Televisions require a lot of investment, and Buganda has gone through a lot over the times. There are priorities, and CBS radio has been there, but time came when the need and the money to set up a TV was there.
What should we expect from the BBS?
BBS brand is a unique one already loved by the people. It’s a brand that has an identity that is deeply rooted in the kingdom. Buganda has been part of the history of this country for donkey’s years. When you look at tourism, politics, etc, Buganda has been part of it all.
Meaning that there is so much contribution the kingdom has over the years made that is still happening even today. We want to be able to have a unique television whose platform and background are based on what we call “Ekitiibwa Kya Buganda” (the pride of Buganda), which encompasses infrastructure, tourism, norms, values, history and business, among others. This station will be one that will portray the history of this country and Buganda, and also project the new Buganda (Omulembe Omutebi).
Thus, this is a trendy television as opposed to what people say that we are going to be an only- cultural TV. We are a mass market television; we are aware of the dynamics, and thus, we are going to have programming that speaks to everyone. For example, we have the English Premiership to cater for the youth, yet we also have programs about neglected areas like the family.
But the underlying identity in doing all that will show that we are a Buganda television, in terms of the way we speak, edit or present our programs.
Will you be thinking about people living in Buganda, who don’t speak Luganda?
According to a UN survey, the language used in 80km from Kampala across the country is Luganda. Thus, it is understood by many people in this country. Well, as we pride ourselves in the culture, we have a national outlook because we are using a language that everyone understands. We are going to have a national appeal because we are Ugandans.
What makes BBS unique?
We have the best picture and clearest signal on all pay TVs. We are going to be able to fuse history, norms and cultural programming. We are going to teach people things they don’t know. For instance, there are many people that don’t know that the Kasubi tombs is one of the biggest sites in this country.
The cultural production and the rich history of Buganda is going to be one of the unique aspects. You are going to see news from the different parts of Buganda, we will have the Lukiiko broadcasted live, the Masaza tournament, and news from Mengo that has not been given prominence by the different players.
Will BBS poach talent like new players usually do?
True to our values, the station has been set up for many reasons but among them has been to create employment. You are going to see fresh faces. We are not in the strategy of recycling faces – why would we start a TV to employ people that already have jobs?
There are many people that have expressed interest in BBS but we are mainly focusing on fresh talent because people are also interested in seeing new things.
Of recent, many Luganda channels that open tend to copy the way that their already- famous counterparts do their work. How different will BBS be?
When you talk about Luganda, you talk about Buganda kingdom. We are the source of the language; thus, we are not going to copy and paste any philosophy. Our philosophy is already there.
We are just going to reaffirm that Buganda has a television and it is trendy because we have the best TV equipment, talent and best programming. And despite the fact that we are using Luganda, we have programming that targets a market larger than many of those TVs. We are targeting the youth, the people working in offices, markets, thus, I would appeal to the people to simply watch.
About the English Premiership, do you have rights to broadcast it?
We have the rights for the free-to-air game on Supersport every week and it says a lot about our character, like why would Supersport trust a new TV?
But we also have a lot of local sports to offer like Amasaza Cup, swimming, Ekiggwo Ekiganda, Omweso, Ebika tournament, and all these games that have been in the kingdom, and some have even been adopted in other regions.
Many TVs have neglected local content, especially in the area of film. What does BBS have in stock for the industry?
Most of the TVs in Uganda have failed to meet the 70 per cent local content requirement set by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). BBS, though, is starting at about 80 per cent, because we have the content.
We are going to promote the film industry. At the moment, we already have a show, Tax 24, an exciting drama. We even have a show, Ebya Sineema, to shed light on the film industry, to talk about the challenges and progress of the industry.
But besides film, we have already produced a number of documentaries and we are currently producing probably Uganda’s first animated TV show, Dibba, a partnership between BBS and a local producer. Animation has been a dream and we are bringing it. But we are also willing to work with filmmakers that may have ideas but can’t produce them.
Which assurance is BBS giving its business community?
We have a ready market for the advertisers, using a language that their consumers understand; but besides the numbers, we want to be the bridge between them and their clients.
Do your advertising packages cater for small businesses?
Everyone will afford to advertise with us since we have packages for all businesses.