Bobi Wine: UCC orders for the suspension of key radio and TV staff

A day away to the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the regulator body of broadcast media houses in Uganda, has issued a directive for the suspension of staff at key media houses in the East African country.

According to a statement issued by the commission, UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi directed for  the suspension of producers, newsroom heads and head of programmes at six television stations and seven radio stations, accusing them of broadcasting Monday’s events in Kampala during the arrest, trail and subsequent remanding to Luzira prisons of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.

The affected TV stations are, BBS Terefayina, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV, NBS TV, NTV and Salt TV while the radio stations are Akaboozi, Beat FM, Capital FM, Pearl FM, Radio Sapientia and Radio Simba.

“This follows concerns over the nature of content aired on these broadcast stations particularly during live programmes, breaking news, and main news bulletins which do not comply with the Minimum broadcasting standards,” the statement reads in part.

According to letter Mutabazi wrote to the individual media houses, UCC accuses the named broadcast stations of airing programs that contain content that “misrepresents information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead or cause alarm to the public.”

Mutabazi also claimed that the content of their broadcasts had “extremist or anarchic” messages, including incitement of violence for political and other purposes as well as inciting the public against other members of the public based on their political, religious, cultural and tribal affiliations which are likely to create public insecurity or violence.

“Further, the said programmes are presented in a manner that is unbalanced, sensational and often give undue prominence to specific individuals and/or groups of people, which is a breach of the Minimum broadcasting standards as enshrined in Section 31 schedule 4 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013,”.

Mutabazi further accused the broadcasters of ignoring previous warnings over similar complaints.

“Therefore, in exercise of its mandate under Sections 5(1)0), 31 and 45 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission has commenced full investigations to determine whether/or not the manner in which the above broadcasters present live programmes and news stories is in accordance with the expected standards and codes of ethics of Journalism,” Mutabazi stated.

He said that the UCC will now investigate the broadcasters during which period, the heads of news, producers and heads of programs at the named broadcast stations be suspended in addition to the respective owners the stations to submit names of the affected staff with their full particulars and qualifications within three days.

He also ordered the media houses to submit to UCC recordings of all live programs that were aired on April 29.