BUGOLOBI – Former chairman of National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the umbrella organization of broadcasters Captain Francis Babu has blasted Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for trying to gag the media with draconian directives.
Captain Babu, who was speaking during a meeting called by Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi over a directive to suspend at least 39 journalists for allegedly violating broadcasting standards, said time had come for media owners to tell Mr. Mutabazi the truth.
Captain Babu’s frustration followed a directive by UCC, telling media owners of seven radio stations and six TV stations to suspend their top editors and producers for alleged violation of minimum broadcasting standards.
“You handled this case extremely shabbily this time. You could have handled it in a better way. It has gone out, internationally we are ashamed,” Mr. Babu told Mr. Mutabazi.
“Yesterday I heard Citizen (TV) talking about us in Kenya, I was disgusted. I heard members of Parliament insulting you, I was annoyed. I heard people saying all sorts of things. It’s the way you handled it. You could have handled it better. We could have listened to you.”
Mutabazi also suggested that he would discipline Babu if he continues talking to him the way he was doing.
“You to discipline me?” Babu asked.
“You? Mr. Mutabazi to discipline me? Why? Because I have come here and spoken the truth? Why should you discipline me? You want to discipline me, at my age? No. No. No. Mr. Mutabazi, the time has come for us to tell you the truth. We want to work with you but you must work with us and don’t disrespect us.”
Seeing that tempers had flared, current NAB boss Kin Kariisa asked Capt. Babu to follow the rules of the meeting.
“The tempers are flaring because we have been mistreated. If we were being treated well, I wouldn’t be speaking this way. I respect him as a regulator but I am not happy. I am not going to see UCC run our companies. He is meant to regulate not run them. But if you don’t want me to talk, Mr. Kariisa and you have joined him, fine,” he said before sitting down.
This is not the first time captain Babu has had a falling out with UCC.
In 2012, as NAB boss, Babu said he would oppose a Bill which could arm the State with legal powers to influence aired content.
“Anything to do with restrictions and management of content, we shall not accept,” he said then.