Shifting Landscapes: Impact of the 2023 National Sports Act on sports journalists in Uganda

Sports journalists covering a boxing event in Kaawala recently | UBF Image

OPINION Shifting Landscapes: Impact of the 2023 National Sports Act on sports journalists in Uganda

Clive Kyazze 16:25 - 22.08.2023

Uganda's sports landscape experienced a significant shift with the signing of the National Sports Act 2023 by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

This legislative milestone aims to regulate various aspects of the sports industry, but its impact on sports journalism, in particular, has raised several questions.

As sports journalists prepare to navigate the new legal framework, they face challenges and opportunities that could reshape the field.

The prohibitive measures

Two critical articles, 68 and 71, within the National Sports Act 2023 have garnered substantial attention due to their potential impact on sports journalism.

Article 68 prohibits the unauthorised capture and recording of sporting events or competitions by electronic media for commercial purposes.

Article 71 further restricts the unauthorised broadcast of sports events or competitions organised by national sports associations or federations.

Challenges for sports journalists

Introducing these prohibitive measures poses immediate challenges for sports journalists in Uganda.

The act limits their ability to document and report on sports events independently.

Previously, journalists played a crucial role in bringing live action and insights to their audiences, enhancing the overall sports experience.

With the legal barriers now in place, journalists face the risk of legal repercussions, fines, and imprisonment if they attempt to capture or broadcast sporting events without proper authorisation.

Adapting to the new landscape

Adapting to the National Sports Act 2023 will require sports journalists to find innovative ways to continue their coverage within legal boundaries.

They may need to establish formal partnerships or agreements with national sports associations and federations to obtain the necessary authorisation for coverage.

This transition could lead to more controlled and curated reporting as journalists work closely with sports bodies to align their coverage with the interests of the organisations.

Impact on sports journalism

The long-term impact of the National Sports Act on sports journalism in Uganda remains to be determined. On the one hand, the act might lead to a more streamlined and organised sports journalism ecosystem.

By collaborating with authorised bodies, journalists could access exclusive content, interviews, and insights, enhancing the depth and quality of their reporting.

This approach could also foster better relationships between journalists and sports associations.

Potential drawbacks

Conversely, there are concerns that the act might stifle independent journalism and critical analysis.

The need for authorisation could lead to self-censorship among journalists, fearing repercussions for reporting on controversial or unfavourable aspects of sports events.

Additionally, the potential exclusivity of coverage could limit the diversity of perspectives and narratives in sports reporting, affecting the overall richness of the media landscape.

Growth or decline?

Whether the National Sports Act 2023 will lead to the growth or decline of sports journalism in Uganda depends on how effectively journalists navigate the new legal framework.

While challenges are inevitable, adaptation and innovation could enable journalists to thrive within the confines of the law.

The act might bring a more organised and collaborative approach to sports coverage, but the risk of curtailed journalistic freedom remains a concern.

As time unfolds, the balance between regulated coverage and journalistic integrity will shape the future of sports journalism in the country.