KAMPALA – The Shadow Minister 0f Information Communication and Technology (ICT), Betty Nambooze has attributed the recent media attacks by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on conflict of interest by the regulators of the industry, who also have vested interests in the sector.
While addressing journalists at Parliament Friday, May 3, Nambooze said that most of the leaders in the country own radio and television stations which put them in a conflicted position especially when it comes to weighting on matters concerning other competitors in the same industry.
She explained: “These people who work in the Ministry of Information are the same ones who own stations, how will they be able to supervise themselves? Do you remember the former Minister Kabakumba Matsiko reached an extent of stealing equipment from the state radio how will she work for the expansion of the state media when she herself is a competitor? That is the problem we have in the country.”
Her comments come amidst backlash within the public following a directive by Geoffrey Mutabazi, Executive Director Uganda Communications Commission who ordered the suspension of Producers, Head of News and Head of Programmes OF; AKABOOZI FM, BBS TV, BEAT FM, BUKEDDE TV, CAPITAL FM, CBS FM, KINGDOM TV, NBS TV, NTV, PEARL FM, SALT TV, SAPIENTIA FM and SIMBA FM.
Mutabazi defended his directive arguing that the decision followed concerns over the nature of content aired on these broadcast stations particularly during live programmes, breaking news, and main news bulletins which he said do not comply with the Minimum broadcasting standards.
The regulator argued that the coverage carried by the said media houses misrepresented information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead or cause alarm to the public and the information carried was extremist and carried anarchic messages, including incitement of violence for political and/or other purposes.
UCC in its statement argued that the message carried incites the public against other members of the public based on their political, religious, cultural and tribal affiliations which are likely to create public insecurity or violence and went on to direct to have 39 journalists suspended pending investigations into the matter.
Nambooze said that she does not understand how UCC can be the prosecutor and complainant and says that under the law its individuals who are supposed to complain to UCC and also urged the opposition to reflect on their relationship with the media saying they need to tolerate people with divergent ideas instead of only thinking of criticizing them.
She explained: “We shouldn’t wait for ourselves to go into power for us to observe rights of the press. If you people of FDC beat up journalists at your press conference, that is bad and we are sorry. If NBS puts up a headline in their news you don’t want and you harass abuse and call for a boycott of that media house, you aren’t any different from Mutabazi who is telling people to sack reporters simply because they reported what he doesn’t want.”
The Mukono Municipality MP argued also apologised to the media for the recent attacks by members of the opposition including when they were beaten at FDC headquarters as they had gone to cover their weekly press conference.
“What you should know is that we must tolerate the Andrew Mwendas who are writing criticising Besigye, we must tolerate Patrick Kamara for asking a fiscal policy question if at all it is an offence, we as opposition we must show that when we come to power we shall do better than NRM,” said Nambooze.