July 11,2018 – Buoyed by the intriguing political drama that culminated in the arrest and detention of former Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura Luganda daily Bukedde has achieved a sales record last seen in the early ’70’s.
Bukedde’s circulation has climbed to cross the 70,000 copies mark over the past three weeks. The numbers buck the trend for the English language press whose daily circulations have stagnated in the 20,000 to 30,000 range.
“There have been occasions in recent days when the print order has crossed the 100,000 mark and I also know that there have been days when net sales have fluctuated between 70,000 and 85000 copies daily,” a source told 256BN.
Such a level of circulation was last achieved in 1972 by the Uganda Argus. Bukedde surge is being seen as a function of both price, content and opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid. While the cover prices of other titles have edged up in response to inflation, Bukedde has maintained a cover price of UGX 1000.
The most an English language title has sold in Uganda in the past decade is 40,000 copies.
Bukedde’s run comes at a time when the local print industry is going through a newsprint crisis which has forced New Vision printing to use old stock newsprint that has resulted in the addition of some three inches to the height of Bukedde.
Commenting on the stagnant circulation of major titles, one analyst says the economy appears to be a key factor in determining circulation levels. Bukedde sells at half the cover price of the New Vision. In 2016, the paper toyed with a price increase to UGX 1500 and circulation plummeted almost immediately. When the cover price reverted to UGX 1000 a few months later, the recovery was also immediate.
The paper is popular at the bottom of the pyramid because of its focus on social issues and intrigue that are close to the heart of the downtrodden. Its dramatic style of story telling also echoes the oral tradition common to so many African cultures.
Former IGP Kale Kayihura was arrested four weeks ago under intriguing circumstances. While authorities initially denied plans to arrest him, Bukedde remained focused on the story, giving daily updated including the hide and seek that culminated in kayihura’s arrest.
The paper has also kept the public abreast of Kayihura’s life in military detention and the challengers his accusers face in filing formal charges against him, as well as the ongoing hunt for his accomplices.
Kayihura is accused of being the mastermind behind a reign of terror that saw dozens of people including his deputy murdered using firearms.