By, Damba Rogers.
Officials from Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) and National Association of Broadcaster (NAB) today have agreed that embattled journalists step aside for 30days as investigations commence, a huge sign that the communications regulator has again overpowered Uganda’s broadcasters.
This comes after the
telecommunications regulator ordered for the immediate suspension of 39
producers, heads of programming and heads of news from 13 media houses over
alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards during the coverage of the
arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi on April 29 in Busabaala.
This morning officials
from NAB led by Kin Kariisa met UCC officials headed by the Executive Director
Godfrey Mutabazi at the UCC offices in Bugolobi to harmonise on the directive
that has been widely criticized.
While addressing the
media on the outcomes of the meeting, Mutabazi said that the two parties agreed
that the affected journalists step aside for 30 days as the Commission
commences its investigations. However, Mutabazi said that such affected
journalists can still be deployed in other areas or departments until the
investigation are concluded.
“We don’t care whether
they [your company] puts you in another position, but for as long as that
position was investigated, you will step aside so that we can freely
investigate,” Mutabazi said.
Ibrahim Bbosa, UCC,
Head of public relations and International Relations, said that the
investigation will dwell on among others the academic qualifications of the
named journalists, breach of journalistic principles and ethics,
professionalism and minimum broadcasting standards.
“NAB requested for
this meeting and today, they laid their concerns before us. We agreed that the
editors especially those who were in charge on 29th April, step aside to allow
investigation and this investigation will take 30days,” Bbosa said.
Bbosa said that no
editor or journalists will be sacked as alleged and that it is the outcomes of
the investigation that will inform them of their next step.
“No one is going to be
sacked, but we have simply agreed that they step aside from the current
positions they are holding. The outcomes of the investigations will guide us on
the next step,” he said.
“We shall continue to
broadcast as the Commission kick starts its probe on the affected journalists.”
Says, the President of NAB, Kaliisa.
However, Uganda journalists under their mother body Uganda
journalist association filed a case against the directs last week with the fast
hearing of the application in which Bwire Arnold and Byansi Henry are seeking
for an interim injunction against UCC directives suspending head of
programming, producers and News managers of 13 media houses starts on Wednesday
08/05/2019, at 11am before justice Lydia Mugambe at high court civil division
twed Towersin Kampala.
The secretary general
UJA, Mr. Bayola Moses on many occasions has challenged the directive by UCC
saying they are out of law and over step the mandate of the commission.
But the national coordinator, Human Rights network for journalists (HRNJ) Robert Ssempala has adds his voice to that of others to rally journalists to speak with one voice and challenge the directives among other brutal acts orchestrated by UCC if media freedom is to really be realized in Uganda.
On many occasions, UCC has ordered for the closure of media houses on grounds that they have not met the required broadcasting standards.