CODE OF ETHICS FOR BROADCASTERS

The Uganda Communications Commission is mandated to monitor, inspect, license, supervise, control and regulate communication services, including broadcasting. Not observing the broadcasting code of ethics can lead to confiscation of broadcasting apparatus, suspension or revocation of the broadcasting license.

What is the code of ethics for broadcasters?

Section 32 of the Uganda Communications Act, provides that the ethical broadcasting standards, which apply to broadcasters, and the professional code of ethics specified in the first schedule of the Press and Journalist Act.

These include;

  • No journalist shall disseminate information or an allegation without establishing its correctness or truth.
  • No journalist shall disclose the source of his or her information; he or she shall only divulge the source in the event of an overriding consideration of public interest and within the framework of the law of Uganda.
  • No journalist shall solicit or accept bribes in an attempt to publish or suppress the publication of a story.
  • A journalist shall not plagiarise the professional work of others or expropriate works or results of research by scholars without acknowledging their contribution and naming his or her sources of information.
  • A journalist shall obtain his or her information through the skilful application of journalistic principles and shall never bribe or offer inducements to his or her source.
  • No journalist shall deny any person with legitimate claim a right to reply to a statement.
  • Corrections and rejoinders are to be published in appropriate form without delay and in a way that they will be noticed by those who have received the original information.
  • A journalist shall at all times strive to separate his or her own opinions from factual news. Where personal opinions are expressed, the public shall be made to know.
  • A journalist shall take the necessary steps to correct any damaging report he or she has made on any individual or organisation.
  • A journalist shall not originate or encourage the dissemination of information designed to promote or which may have the effect of promoting tribalism, racism or any other form of discrimination.

For more information, see Standards for General Broadcast Programming in Uganda using this link http://bit.ly/2Gygn3p

How does UCC ensure the broadcasters’ code of ethics is followed?

Through monitoring and inspections, UCC ensures that broadcasting conforms to the minimum standards and professional ethics. Physical inspections and consumer feedback is an essential part of the monitoring process. Broadcasters are required to submit broadcasting programme line ups to UCC as part of the monitoring programme.

The Commission has installed sophisticated multimedia equipment “digital loggers” that record broadcast on free to air media stations. This content is archived for a period of 90 days enabling the technical staff to analyse the content.

Consumer feedback is another essential and reliable monitoring platform done by viewers and listeners of the various broadcast. Consumer complaints and feedback is taken seriously and were appropriately investigated against the broadcasting code and ethics. The multiplicity of media channels, especially in the digital era renders monitoring of content a considerable undertaking hence the importance attached to viewers and listeners feedback and complaints.

How does an aggrieved party complain and obtaining redress if offended by a broadcaster?

A complaint should first be made to the broadcaster as the first call of contact for corrective measures and redress. If complaints are not given attention or if a complainant is dissatisfied, they can lodge a formal complaint to UCC.

While we prefer complaints reduced in writing for easy administration and to clarify when the breach was committed, complainants unable to write can use the UCC Toll-free (0800 222 777) for guidance. The complainants should state the name of the radio station, the time, date and programme to ease investigation.

The commission reserves the right to invoke penalties as prescribed by law if a broadcaster is found in breach. In some instances, a broadcaster may be required to apologies and allowing the complainant the right to reply to correct the damaging situation using the same station.

There is much false advertising in broadcasting by traditional healers/witch doctors. What intervention does UCC have to avoid misleading the public?

UCC has issued a warning to all media houses through the media to desist from hosting witch doctors/traditional doctors who engage in discussions that promote witchcraft practice including concocting stories with the aim of confusing listeners about their purported potential to create wealth or to cure several illnesses including Aids.

Section 2 of the Witchcraft Act Cap 124, prohibits the practices of witchcraft and a person who holds himself or herself out as a witch, whether on one or more occasions, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.

Section 305 of the Penal Code Act Cap 120, provides that any person who by false pretence and with intent to defraud obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen commits an offence and is on conviction liable to five years imprisonment.

Cases of broadcasters promoting Witchcraft

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in March 2018 summoned and held hearings for 5 Local FM broadcasters over content related to advertising and promoting witchcraft in Uganda. The summoned broadcasters included Apex FM, Metro FM, Star FM, FUFA FM and Dembe FM. The summons followed a monitoring and investigation exercise by the Commission that revealed that some broadcasters were advertising and promoting witchcraft contrary to Section 2 of the Witchcraft Act (Cap 124).

At the hearing, audio recordings of conmen or purported witchcraft practitioners were played, and the broadcasters tasked to explain their contents which are deemed as aiding and abetting electronic fraud contrary to sections 19 and 21 of the Computer Misuse Act, 2011.

In what appears to be organised crime, one of the recordings bears a voice of a purported witchdoctor called Nalongo Bafuna who shares her telephone contacts on air and calls upon listeners to send to her mobile money and expect quicker and bigger returns from the ancestral spirits “emisambwa”.

In one particular incident, a complainant from Buikwe District was conned of Shillings One Million, Four Hundred Thousand that was sent through mobile money to a purported traditional healer that advertised her services on Apex FM in return for quick fortunes and good luck. The Complainant reported the matter to Police and the Commission for action.   

The Commission directed the said broadcasters to make undertaking not to air the said content again and ordered the said broadcasters to refund all the victims’ money within a minimum of 10 working days. The Commission also puts out notice all the broadcasters countrywide to comply with the Minimum Broadcasting Standards and the applicable laws of Uganda.

Are you familiar with the advertising standards? Please check this link; http://bit.ly/2vfLHxy

2 thoughts on “CODE OF ETHICS FOR BROADCASTERS

  1. Thanks a lot for that information,I was too much puzzled with excessive adverts made by conmen(witch doctors) aired on most local radio stations mostly in jinja with the aim stealing people’s hardly earned money.
    Thanks for measures taken.

    Like

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