Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) ordered the suspension of 39 journalists from 13 media houses over the broadcast of a procession around opposition leader Bobi Wine as he went to a blocked concert in Busabala.
saying the content was sensational and gave undue prominence to individuals.
In an April 30th letter to a number of broadcasters including NTV, Kingdom TV, Beat FM, Capital FM, Pearl FM, UCC’s executive director, Mr. George Mutabazi threatened them with sanctions if they do not suspend their staff accused of airing or approving undesirable broadcast content.
Subscribers of Uganda’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) who are Media managers and owners who have asked the commission to recall the order on the suspension of its staff as it undermines the quality of journalism and creates an environment of fear and threats.
NAB’s chairman, Mr. Kin Kariisa in a statement noted that the abrupt order by the broadcasting regulator to suspend staff weakens standards and controls that exist in all media houses compromising the opportunity for dialogue between UCC and broadcasters based on the past relationship.
“NAB and its members believe that the media plays a key role in shaping a healthy democracy by exposing loopholes in the democratic system which ultimately helps the government to fill them and making the system more accountable, responsive and citizens- friendly,” he said.
Mr. Charles Bichachi, the Public Editor at Nation Media Group Uganda advised that the media houses would look into the issues being raised and an appropriate remedy would be found and there was no need for UCC to order the suspension of journalists.
Other stakeholders including Civil Society Organisations have come out to condemn UCC for undermining the principles of press freedom insisting that it is illegitimate for the government or the regulators to unnecessarily interfere or to prescribe how broadcasters should report the news.
“As Uganda joins the world to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom day, it is very concerning that UCC is taking further steps to increase its grip on the media. These developments came on the backdrop of a spate of threats from government officials and errant switch-offs of radio stations upcountry for hosting opposition leaders,” the CSO’s stated in a joint statement.