UCC revoke licenses of 5 media houses
UCC threatens to revoke licenses of 5 media houses over Bobi Wine coverage. File PHOTO

UCC gives 5 Media Houses time to reason out why their broadcast Licenses shouldn’t be revoked following a breach of broadcast standards

Media Houses have broadcasting standards in Uganda as clearly stated in Section 31 and Schedule 4 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 (UCC).

However, some Media Houses Particularly Radio and Television Stations seem to be working outside the rules and regulations governing broadcasters. 

This is after Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) released a report on Monday 7th October after an investigation they carried out into Media Houses activities indicating a breach of minimum broadcasting standards in Uganda.

UCC report singled out 5 Media Houses that includes; the Serena based Television Station, Nations Media Group (NTV), Bukedde TV, the Buganda Kingdom-based Television Station (BBS) Terefayina, the Kamwokya based Television Station(NBS) and Radio Sapientia.

UCC in the report also said that there is widespread non-compliance as far as the Press and Journalists Act is concerned in these Media Houses.

“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. Investigators also found widespread non-compliance with the Press and Journalists Act,” reads in part the report.

However, Salt TV, Capital FM, Radio Simba and CBS are to be cautioned, and “The Inside Story” programme of Pearl FM’s awaits suspension.

Still in the report, UCC allegedly stated that a group of people were carrying out mobilisation of members of the general public purposely to ambush security agencies and forcefully forge access to important government installations to disorganise Uganda’s peace and security.

This was after police received some intelligence information.

UCC further stated that actions of Police and other Security agencies during rioting are lawful. But the way the Media conducts its activities during these times especially one-sided interviews and live broadcast is intentionally meant to incite violence among the public.

But before UCC takes action, they have given the above named Media Houses time to give a reason why their broadcasting licenses shouldn’t be withdrawn.

Now following UCC’s investigation report on the above mentioned Media Houses, two concerned citizens including Henry Byensi and Ronald Bwire have filed a legal suit before the civil division of the High Court against UCC and Godfrey Mutabazi the Executive Director for contempt of court.

Bwire and Byensi argue that despite the Court’s injunction against UCC, they went ahead to conduct investigations.

“The impugned investigations have been ongoing in total disregard of this honourable court’s orders forbidding the implementation of the respondent’s directive dated April 30th, 2019 until the final determination of the judicial review application,” Bwire and Byensi’s lawsuit stated.

The suit further stated that UCC’s findings in the report are illegal, purposely intended to pre-empt the court’s proceeding.

Now, Bwire and Byensi want the court to order UCC make compensations of six billion shillings and pay a fine of four million shillings for the damages made after contempt of court.

In April this year, UCC filed accusations of breach of minimum broadcasting standards against 13 Media Houses through their live broadcast of events that involved the arrest of the Kyadondo East legislator, aka Bobi Wine.

In this regard, UCC said that the live coverage of the event by some Media Houses contained a misrepresentation of information, virus, facts and events, misleading and causing alarm to the public.

The mentioned Media Houses, in this case, include; NTV, Salt TV, NBS, Kingdom TV, Bukedde TV, CBS FM, Radio Simba, Pearl FM, Capital FM, Radio Sapientia, Beat FM, and Akaboozi FM.

UCC then later issued a communique on the 30 April, ordering the suspension of these Stations producers, programmes managers, news managers or else they risk sanctions prompting NAB to respond to them requesting a reverse of the orders.

However, in May, the High Court in Kampala ordered UCC to stop implementation of its suspension orders to these Media Houses head of departments and several journalists including any attached investigation until the main suit in which the communication regulator was dragged to court is discarded.