The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has said orders by Godfrey Mutabazi to have journalists at 13 media houses suspended will create an environment of fear.
Mutabazi’s Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on Monday directed the suspension of Producers, Head of News and Head of Programmes of the media houses citing repeated breach of minimum broadcasting standards.
The affected include six TV stations [nbs TV, BBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV, Salt TV] and seven radio stations [Akaboozi FM, Beat FM, CBS FM, Capital FM, Pearl FM, Sapientia FM 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 commission told the media houses in a statement dated May 1, 2019 and signed by Mutabazi.
The communications regulatory body noted that the programmes contain content that has extremist messages, misrepresents facts and incites the public against other members of the society 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.”
“The commission has previously engaged and warned above broadcasters over similar complaints, but it is now apparent that they have refused and/or ignored these warnings.”
The commission further gave three days to the affected media houses to submit the names, particulars and qualifications of the suspended journalists as well as recordings of all live programs and news bulletins aired on the of April 29, 2019.
April 29, 2019 is the date on which Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine was arrested and remanded to Luzira Prison amid protests in various parts of the country.
“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.”
But NAB on Thursday said the abrupt suspension of key staff on orders of UCC will have adverse consequences of undermining the quality of journalism.
“The order will weaken standards and controls already established at the media houses and amplify the risk that led to UCC’s intervention in the first place as well as compromise the opportunity for dialogue between UCC and the broadcasters based on past relationship,” a statement signed by Kin Karisa, the NAD chairman reads in part.
It adds, “National association of Broadcaster hereby recommends that UCC rescind the order to suspend media staff pending and urgent meeting between the two parties.”