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No editor will be sacked! Understanding UCC, NAB meeting

The Head for PR and International Relations at UCC, Mr. Ibrahim Kibuuka Bbossa, noted that investigations will reveal whether the said journalists breached the minimum broadcasting standards or not. (PHOTO/Javira Ssebwami)

BUGOLOBI – The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on Tuesday, May 7 held a meeting with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) an umbrella body of broadcasters at UCC House Bugolobi.

NAB requested the meeting in a letter dated May 2 sighting the “harsh reaction of the Commission towards coverage of some news events, including the live coverage of the arrest of the budding opposition figure and Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine.

The Commission had on April 30 directed the suspension of programme managers pending the conclusion of an investigation on “repeated breach of Minimum Broadcasting Standards.”

UCC says the investigation will among others seek to establish whether programming on the April 29 breached the Minimum Broadcasting Standards.

However, in constructive deliberations during the two-hour long meeting and both parties agreed to key among others:

UCC 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 UCC wrote after the meeting.

It was also agreed that the investigation into an alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards shall take not more than 30 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,” Mr. Ibrahim Bbosa, UCC, Head of PR and International Relations told journalists immediately after the meeting.

He noted that 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.

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 among others.

Mr. Bbosa said that no editor or journalists will be sacked as alleged and that it is the outcomes of the investigation that will inform them of their next step.

“No one is going to be sacked, but we have simply agreed that they step aside from the current positions they are holding. The outcomes of the investigations will guide us on the next step,” he said adding that aggrieved media houses will have a right to appeal against the outcome.

Mr. Kin Kariisa, the NAB chairman said they had agreed on a number of issues to be followed by both the media houses and UCC as investigations into the matter continue.

Mr. Kariisa said they had agreed on a number of issues to be followed by both the media houses and UCC as investigations into the matter continue.

“We agreed that they (suspended journalists) will not leave media houses until investigations and results are done and are out,” Mr. Kariisa.

“They said investigations will be completed within 30 days and each media house is to be investigated individually.”

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