Our long-term future is digital, says NMG- U MD Glencross

Mr Tony Glencross, the Managing Director of Nation Media Group Uganda. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Since its inception, Daily Monitor has positioned itself as a credible source of news. As the publication celebrates 30 years of telling the truth, Mr Tony Glencross, the Managing Director of Nation Media Group Uganda, spoke to Joan Salmon about the future.

What does celebrating 30 years mean for Daily Monitor?

It means celebrating the resilience with which they fought many battles. Right from the start, the Monitor fought political battles with the State, and economic battles when its advertising was boycotted by the government.

There were also financial battles in terms of a small company starting with no systems. Those first years were the hardest that even the vendors they had entrusted the few copies with were stealing them. That said, they had the resilience and determination to keep going.

What has the journey been like for Monitor?

It has been a tough journey, often against all odds.

Financial hurdles. The government gave them a very hard time because the truth hurts. Regardless of who one is, there are certain things they do not want in the public eye. The newspaper filled a crack that The New Vision, owing to their shareholding, could not. As such, The Monitor opened up wounds and poked people in the wrong places causing the government to fight back by cutting back on funding.

In those days, a newspaper was sold at Shs500 and they might have been selling 10,000 to 11,000 copies but that was not enough to sustain the business and pay staff, thus the need for advertising. However, there was an economic boycott for about four years where the government banned its entities from advertising in the paper. That made the journey hard.

Stiff competition. In those early years, there was a rivalry between The New Vision and The Monitor. The New Vision was a tough competitor that had 10 years of experience in how to run the ship and set up systems with organised penetration throughout the country.

That said, The Monitor set the editorial precedence regarding what they were about and the image they wanted the public to have of them. Then, the cash injection that came from Nation Media Group, allowed them to take it to the next level - diversification. And so while the paper brings in the bulk of the revenue, the profits come from the extra projects such as the courier arm, radio, and TV. Also, we are the leaders in taking the newspaper online. All that takes is commitment, dedication, and being brave. I admire the editors and journalists for their courage and bravery.

What stakeholder value have you added to Daily Monitor ever since you were appointed as the managing director?

Taking the company into the digital realm. Although there is still a long way to go, the journey has begun. We have vastly improved the radio products and profitability, and grown the courier unit. We have weathered political storms, redesigned the paper, and most importantly, managed the company through the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst remaining profitable.

What is the company’s shared growth strategy?

Our growth strategy is as a country, along with ABUL (TVs) and the East African. We have converged all our operations and run as one company. We have one finance operation, one human resource department, one editorial department, and one commercial department. Our long-term future is digital, focusing on our readers, listeners, and viewers, and generating revenue from all audiences.

How have Daily Monitor’s operations been, especially in terms of market share and profitability?

We have maintained our market share and grown our revenues.

Taking into account that we have not increased advertising rates or cover prices in six years, we have done exceptionally well, growing volumes year on year.

How do the operations of the company impact the overall progress of Nation Media Group Company?

In terms of impact, we are huge. We give NMG a presence in Uganda, as the biggest independent media house, with TV and Radio.

What is Daily Monitor’s competitive advantage in Uganda’s media industry?

We are independent, we are flexible, and can run autonomous operations without interference from the government, and shareholders. We also bring variety and huge audiences through our products to advertisers and key stakeholders and still have the ability to make massive contributions to policies within Uganda.

How prepared is the company to align itself to the digital revolution?

We are ready, the good thing is that we are not reinventing the wheel. We have many examples of highly successful analogue-to-digital transformations to learn from.

Considering that staff engagement is key to business success, what major employee initiatives does Daily Monitor pride in, and how have these contributed to their career growth?

There are many incentives including training, car loans, attachments, study leave, and mentoring programmes, among others. This company has nurtured many people who have joined government organisations and international media.

What is the company’s outlook for the next 30 years?

We will continue to grow, innovate and evolve into a new generation media company. There is still a massive need for good quality editorial that helps readers to get credible information.