NMG closes 03 radios, TV in Kenya, Rwanda, to merge operations in Uganda

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By Moses Kaketo

Nation Media Group (NMG), the regions’ largest media house has closed down three of its radio stations in Kenya and Rwanda and one television channel as it seeks to align business strategy.

‘ ‘We wish to announce the rationalisation of our broadcasting division. This will entail consolidating our two television stations into one strong multi-lingual television station under our flagship brand NTV. We are also scaling down our traditional radio business in Kenya (NationFM and QFM) and Rwanda (KFM). We will keep a live signal and maintain an online presence in line with our digital strategy.’’ Reads part of the statement

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The group employees more than 1,800 employees across its 21 print broadcast and online media houses in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Newz Post has learnt that NMG management is planning to carry out similar measures in Uganda as it seeks to streamline its business. Over the past year, NMG’s share prize has fallen by 27% with revenues for 2015 shrinking by 7% to sit at £90m, compared to the £98m over a similar period in 2014.

Also read:Bukedde Newspaper copy sales plummets, loses 10,000 copies in a couple of months

Nation Media Group (NMG) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1959 and has been listed in the Nairobi Stock Exchange since the early 1970s. Over the years, the company has grown to become the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa with operations in print, broadcast and digital media, which attract and serve unparalleled audiences in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

In a statement sent to all employees on Thursday 30th June 2016, management said it needed to move to more digital and mobile digital and mobile friendly business model to match the current and future demands of consumers of her products.

The 03 radio stations and TV channel were loss making and a burden to the group. The group also seeks to weigh the same stick to media houses in the region particularly in Uganda.

“We are reorganizing ourselves with the objective of transforming the group into a modern 21st century digital content company embracing a digital/mobile first business model,” the statement reads in part.

Research shows internet penetration in the region particularly Kenya and Uganda is on the rise.

This development has shaken traditional media in the region. More people are accessing information through internet and thus the need to NMG to move in faster.

In Kenya Internet penetration and mobile phone usage has risen rapidly in Kenya, with the number of mobile data subscriptions rising by 10.6% to 23.9m subscriptions in 2015/16.

Armed with this information, management says they have embarked on implementing a new strategic direction that ensures we secure our current business and position the organisation to win in the future.

‘ ‘To achieve this, we are cognisant of the changing trends in which individuals are consuming our products. In line with this new reality, we are reorganising ourselves with the objective of transforming the Group into a modern Twenty First Century digital content company embracing a digital/mobile first business model.’’

Changes in Uganda

Apart from Nation Television Uganda, Nation Media group brands in Uganda are said to be struggling, some of them are yet to break even.

The group brands in Uganda include, NTV, The East African, Daily Monitor, KFM, Dembe FM, Nation Couriers, Enyanda, and Monitor Business Directory. Daily Monitor alone employees about 300 staff, many of them are in editorial department.

Available information reveals, Dembe FM and KFM are struggling and yet to break even. Reports further indicate, by time, MPL bought Dembe FM from a city tycoon Patrick Bitature, the radio was profitable, not anymore.

The station was earning big from traditional herbalists and Witchdoctors. However, to portray a corporate image, the new management dropped the herbalist’s advertisers. They noticed the mistake later, however, it was too late, the herbalists had moved on. Today, the station is struggling to break even. It depends on The Daily Monitor for survival.

, In Uganda nearly everyone is corrupt. To secure a business, you must be able to giveback something.

However MPL management seems to have failed to realize this. This is the very reason why KFM is struggling. It said, KFM management does not give kickbacks to potential advertisers. In Uganda, to secure an advert, you must be ready to give back something-it is now a normal.

However, MPL management does not recognize this. The company seems to be against this practice. The reason why KFM and Dembe FM are struggling with adverts, yet some little unknown radio stations have adverts in plenty-simply because the local CEO’s of these stations can afford to meet potential advertisers and promise them a percentage of the business.

To emerge operations in Uganda

Our sources at NMG in Nairobi told Newz Post that as a cost cutting measure, the group plans to emerge all the media houses in Uganda under one roof- This means NTV Uganda, East African and Monitor Publications Limited will be under one roof, with one Chief Executive Officer.

The move will see one large productive and profitable company. With the new structure, when a reporter goes for an event, he will report for all NMG group media houses in Uganda. For example, when Daily Monitor reporter writes a story, it will be covered on all company’s media houses. This will cut down the on budget and make the organization more profitable.

The move will also help to streamline the commercial section. Unlike New Vision Group, NMG in Uganda has a disintegrated commercial division.

It is common to see sales executives from The Daily Monitor, KFM, Dembe FM, East African, NTV going to the same client with different offers and prices.

Under the new structure, management will offer a complete package to clients. The client will then be able to choose will offer to take on using a preferred media house.

NMG is said to be making more money in Kenya and Tanzania, and almost nothing comes from the Uganda subsidiaries-save for NTV Uganda. It is for this reason that NMG Kenya employees earning more compared to their Ugandan counterparts. For example, Finance Director in Kenya earns about Ksh3m (Ugx. 100m) a month. Ugandan counterpart earns peanuts.

Enter Aggie Konde

To realize this, management will be looking for a competent person with the desired academic qualification, experience and knowledge to run such huge company but still remain profitable.

Part of his/her strategy will be to ensure digital strategy is followed to the dot. Sources say, Aggie Konde, the current managing Director NTV Uganda is for now seen as the sole candidate for this job. Aggie Konde has been able to transform NTV Uganda. With her recent qualifications in digital marketing and experience in marketing, competition must wake up before it is too late.

Related: Daily Monitor gains, as New Vision, Bukedde Copy sales fall further

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