UCC asks media personnel to step aside and investigations continue

By Patricia Osman
Uganda Communications Commission and the National Association of Broadcasters have agreed that the commission continues with its investigations on media houses and individuals for alleged breach of the minimum broadcasting standards.

Addressing the media after the meeting at the UCC offices in Bugolobi, the commission’s Executive Director Eng Godfrey Mutabazi says no staff member will be suspended but they have to step aside as investigations by UCC investigators for a period of one month takes off.

“We are going to look at a number of issues including minimum broadcasting stands, education qualifications and if the stories aired are in any way influenced by an unseen hand.
“You know the Live broadcasting guidelines were written by members of the NAB and we approved the document but now it seems they have violated this particular document and this we have to look into critically,” he adds.

Mr Mutabazi further says “There have been a lot of issues with the media industry, we have been writing memos and engaging media houses for a very long time, if you look at the content aired now it’s completely different from what we agreed on, instead of news they bring documentaries, hate speech and stories that incite public violence”
Peter Mungoma, CEO Capital radio/Beat FM says the outcome of the meeting was fair enough on both sides.

“We have asked UCC to come up with specifics on the breach to each media house which they have allowed to do with focus on the news aired on the April 29th 2019 and once this is done we will then direct UCC on a way forward and hope this will be in a corrective and not punitive manner“ he said.
“We however have told UCC that we cannot suspend our staff because of the different work contracts we have with them and the commission has agreed with us on this, asking us not to suspend the affected individuals but rather ask them to step aside, Mungoma adds.

Kin Karisa chairman National Broadcasters Association says they have also agreed that these individuals can be assigned other roles in their respective media houses than have them suspended.

Asked whether the UCC directives have affected the smooth operations of different media houses he says “apart from creating scare and intimidation in different newsrooms, business is running as normal”.

On the April 30th 2019 UCC ordered 13 radio stations and TVs to suspend 39 producers, heads of programming and heads of news as it investigates alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards while covering the arrest of Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine on April 29th 2019.
Media houses affected by the directive include Capital FM,Beat FM, Pearl FM, Sapientia FM, Radio Simba and Akaboozi, NBS TV, BBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV and Salt TV.

A cross section of Ugandans including politicians and lawyers have come out to condemn the move by UCC describing it as draconian and clamping down on media freedom.