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UCC, broadcasters reach truce, order embattled journalists to step aside for investigation

The UCC executive director Geoffrey Mutabazi shares an insight with NAB chairman Kin Kariisa shortly after the meeting at the Commision’s home in Bugolobi. (PHOTO/Javira Ssebwami.)

BUGOLOBI – Officials from Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) and National Association of Broadcaster (NAB) on Tuesday, morning agreed that embattled journalists step aside for 30 days as investigations commence.

This comes after the telecommunications regulator ordered for the immediate suspension of 39 producers, heads of programming and heads of news from 13 media houses over alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards during the coverage of the arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi on April 29 in Busabaala.

Officials from NAB led by Kin Kariisa met the regulator headed by the Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi at the UCC offices in Bugolobi to harmonise on the directive that has been widely criticized.

While addressing the media on the outcomes of the meeting, Mr. Mutabazi said that the two parties agreed that the affected journalists step aside for 30 days as the Commission commences its investigations.

However, Mutabazi said that such affected journalists can still be deployed in other areas or departments until the investigation are concluded.

“We don’t care whether they [your company] puts you in another position, but for as long as that position was investigated, you will step aside so that we can freely investigate,” Mr.  Mutabazi said.

Mr. Ibrahim Bbosa, UCC, Head of PR and International Relations, said that the investigation will dwell on among others the academic qualifications of the named journalists, breach of journalistic principles and ethics, professionalism and minimum broadcasting standards.

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)

“NAB requested for this meeting and today, they laid their concerns before us. We agreed that the editors especially those who were in charge on 29th April, step aside to allow investigation and this investigation will take 30 days,” Bbosa said.

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.

Speaking shortly after the meeting, 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.

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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