The Uganda Communications Commission (the Commission) has today the 16th May 2019 received a courtesy visit from the Deputy British High Commissioner to Uganda, Ms Sarah Mann, together with the High Commission Press Secretary Nicholas Rae who met with the Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, at his office in Bugolobi.
During the engagement, Mr Mutabazi briefed the High Commission delegation on various developments taking place in the ICT sector. The discussion also highlighted the recent directive of the Commission to suspend the media manager of some media houses.
On the status of the directive, the delegation was briefed on the meeting held with the National Association of Broadcasters to clarify on the aspect of “Suspension”. He explained that the media manager would step aside for the duration of the investigation to avoid possible bias and or interference and not necessarily leave employment.
The delegation raised concerns on the timing of the directive, especially as the country is getting ready for elections in two years. Mr Mutabazi explained that the timing might have been unfortunate. However, the Commission exercises its functions independently of any person or body and the concern that necessitated regulatory intervention is the deteriorating nature of broadcasting content carried by the affected media houses.
Mutabazi explained that the Commission is mindful of the potential disruption regulatory interventions can have on a media house. That is why, rather than a temporary suspension of entire programmes which is provided for under the Uganda Communications Act, a more subtle intervention was sought to focus on the allegedly questionable content and persons in charge of that content to minimise on the possible inconvenience but also allow for the investigation process to proceed uninterrupted.
The Deputy High Commissioner was pleased to note that there is an ongoing investigation into the conduct of the said journalist and looks forward to the outcome. She noted the Commission’s concern on the non-professional behaviour of some the media practitioners in Uganda that threatens to undermine public security interest and the public confidence in the law and its enforcement.
Mr Mutabazi equally noted that the relationship with the embassy needs improving to allow for more engagement and exchanges that are mutually beneficial. The meeting also noted that training and capacity building of media personalities on the legal and regulatory matter should be an ongoing exercise that facilitates engagements of mutual benefit.