UCC threatens to revoke licenses of 5 media houses over Bobi Wine

A six month investigation by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) into the alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards by 13 broadcasters is recommending punitive action against four television stations and at least one radio station for their coverage of the April 29 arrest of opposition politician, Robert Kyagulanyi.

Kyagulanyi, popularly known by his music stage name of Bobi Wine was arrested by the police as moved with a mass of supporters to the police’s Criminal investigations directorate (CID) headquarters where he had been summoned to record a statement in regard to an Easter Monday concert that the police blocked.

UCC responded by threatening action against broadcasters and individual journalists that were relaying the musician, also Kyadondo East MP’s procession and subsequent arrest.

In total, UCC put 13 media houses under investigation over alleged breached of the minimum broadcast standards and also ordered for the suspension of at least 39 journalists.

According to the investigation report, UCC wants NTV, NBS TV, BBS Terefayina, Bukedde TV and Radio Sapientia to show cause why the regulator shouldn’t revoke their licenses, while Salt TV, Capital FM, CBS and Radio Simba are to be cautioned.

Two radios, Radio Two (Akaboozi ku Bbiri) and Beat FM were exonerated of wrong doing as “the investigators found no evidence of a breach but, like many others, they were faulted on failing to install pre-listening and delay devices and contravening the Press and Journalists Act.”

UCC also directed Pearl FM to suspend its current affairs program, The Inside Story.

“From the report’s findings, most of the broadcasters investigated were found to have been in breach of various laws, standards and license terms and conditions. Most of the breaches related to a failure by the broadcasters to adhere to the minimum broadcasting standards and the standards for general broadcast programming in Uganda” the regulator body said in a statement.

The investigation was instituted following complaints from security agencies to the effect that a section of radio and television stations were broadcasting content that was contrary to the minimum broadcasting standards enshrined in Section 31 and Schedule 4 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

According to the statement by UCC, Uganda Police Force and other security agencies reported they had received intelligence information to the effect that certain persons were mobilising members of the public to gang up against security agencies and force their way towards vital government installations in order to disrupt peace and security.

“The security agencies were also concerned that the continuous live coverage of exchanges between rioting crowds and security personnel, including one-sided interviews, was intended to incite the public against their lawful actions,” UCC stated.