#TAG is a social media based television show which was launched in 2014 Urban TV, Uganda. It was established to capture the voices of people who are increasingly expressing their opinions and lifestyles online as opposed to communicating via traditional media. Last week, Uganda’s largest TV station, NTV also launched it’s own social media show called #TIMELINE256. I spoke to (actually it was via Twitter DM message) presenters from both shows to find out more.
#TAG was chosen as a title to highlight the show as a place where online conversation can be aggregated. Dan Mumbere, #TAG presenter said “The show is designed to capture social media conversations and uses platforms like Skype and Google Hangouts to present them. The show has effectively captured the moods and views of the online community on policy issues like the elections, budget process, financial bailouts and so on. The model we have used in the past is to document trends, but we are increasingly exploring options of setting the trends by introducing, moderating and trending critical conversations on social media, social issues affecting our target audience ( youth) including governance and policy
Many social issues have been covered since the shows inception including #LetGirlsBeGirls, #RegulateBodaBodas and #NoToHumanTrafficking. The show acts as an extended voicebox which can amplify voices and ideas via mainstream television.
#TIMELINE256 was launched last week on Uganda’s largest television station NTV Uganda. The show is aired three times a day at 9.00am, 4.55pm and 10.00pm. Brian Mulondo presenter of the show said “One of the purposes of the show is to encourage viewers and especially Ugandans to start trends, but also to contribute to global hashtags. We want to encourage responsible social media use and our long term goal is to develop the show into something similar to Al Jazeera’s The Stream”
To encourage participation from non social media users, presenters on the show go out to the streets to seek views. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram enable people to participate using their preferred medium. They are also in the process of creating a WhatsApp broadcast list where people can subscribe to receive weekly episodes. Brian added “The intention of these platforms is to encourage citizen journalism and widen participation in discussions around topics important in Uganda.”
According to a recent paper ‘Assembling the Impact of Social Media on Political Communication and Civic Engagement in Uganda‘ social media participation in Uganda is mostly educated urban youth. The majority of Uganda’s population live in rural areas, with little infrastructure to support social media usage. Other problems include illiteracy and the asymmetric distribution of content. Individuals’ social media networks tend to be homophilous, meaning that social media influencers in Uganda are often connected to one another. Kiranda (2015) believes that mass media is bound to geographical communities, whereas social media platforms tend to be bound by peers and like minded individuals. To this extent, #TAG and #TIMELINE256 have the potential to amplify social media discussions to wider national audiences as well as educating citizens on the power of online debate.