The Uganda Communications Commission (the Commission) held a meeting with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on Tuesday 7th May 2019 at UCC House Bugolobi. NAB requested the meeting in a letter dated 2nd May 2019 sighting the “harsh reaction of the Commission towards coverage of some news events.”
The Commission had on 30th April 2019 directed the suspension of programme managers pending the conclusion of an investigation on repeated breach of Minimum Broadcasting Standards.
There were constructive deliberations during the two-hour meeting, and it was agreed as follows:
- The Commission clarified that the “suspension of certain individuals by the Broadcasters” meant that the affected staff for each Broadcaster should not be suspended from employment at the media house but rather be requested to step aside to pave the way for investigations into the alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards.
- The employees of the Broadcasters who have been requested to step aside shall be allowed to continue working with the Broadcaster/Operator in other capacities which are not the subject of this investigation. The request to step aside takes effect by the close of business on Tuesday 7th May 2019.
- The investigation into an alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards shall take not more than 30 (thirty) working days’ subject to the full cooperation by the Broadcasters affected.
- The Commission is open to ensuring continued dialogue between the National Association of Broadcasters and the individual Broadcasters to ensure seamless operations in the Broadcasting industry and conformity with the Laws, Regulations and guidelines governing the industry
- Each Broadcaster affected by the directives dated 30th April 2019 should seek clarity individually on the alleged breaches where additional clarification is required and where applicable consideration made for unique operational circumstances.
- Regarding the personalities to be affected by the investigations into the alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards, it was agreed that whoever was acting in the capacity of Editor and Producer of the programmes under consideration on 29th April 2019 should be the member of staff to be requested to step aside to allow for an investigation.
The Commission further acknowledges the role of the media in shaping a healthy democracy and enhancing accountability and the belief that this should be achievable within the established legal and regulatory framework and the supervisory roles of the Commission as provided for under the Uganda Communication Act of 2013.
The investigation will among others seek to establish whether programming on the 29th April 2019 breached the Minimum Broadcasting Standards. The inquiry will look into whether the content in question;
- Misrepresented information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead or cause alarm to the public;
- Had extremist or anarchic messages, including incitement of violence for political and/ or other purposes;
- Incited the public against other members of the public based on their political, religious, cultural and tribal affiliations, likely to create public insecurity or violence.