KAMPALA— Uganda Communications Commission has ordered Urban TV to immediately suspend its Short Circuit programme after the station ignored the regulator’s directive to have it rescheduled.
The Commission on 18th October 2021 wrote to eleven TV stations directing them to reschedule their adult-themed gossip programmes from evening hours to between 10 pm, and 5 am with effect from Wednesday, 20th October 2021.
However, in utter disregard of the Commission’s directive, Urban TV went ahead to air the programme on Wednesday 20th October 2021, Thursday 21st October 2021, and Friday 22nd October 2021 during the watershed period.
Consequently, on Friday, 22nd October, the Commission directed Urban TV to immediately suspend Short Circuit until it has “satisfactorily demonstrated that the programme has been appropriately scheduled in accordance with the directive of 18th October 2021.”
In her letter to Urban TV, the Ag. Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo invoked the Commission’s powers under 5(1)(b), (x), (j), (k) 31, and 45 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, and Regulations 8, 9, 28 and 41 of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019.
Besides having to show cause why regulatory sanctions shouldn’t be brought against the station on account of defying the Commission’s directive, Urban TV is also required to submit recordings and programme scripts of Short Circuit that aired between 1st September 2021 and 20th October 2021.
Submission of the required items, including copies of academic qualifications, proof of certification and registration of Short Circuit presenters and producers, is to be followed by a hearing at UCC House on 5th November 2021.
This development is a culmination of the meeting between UCC officials and representatives of the eleven television stations at the Commission’s head office in Bugolobi on 7th October 2021.
Besides Urban TV’s Short Circuit, the other affected programmes, known for broadcasting mostly gossip and celebrity news, are: NBS TV’s Uncut Sabula and Uncut Kalakata, Spark TV’s Live Wire, ABS TV’s Evening Zone, Baba TV’s Poko Poko, and BBS TV’s Roundabout.
Others are, Dream TV’s Tik Taka Sesetura, Kingdom TV’s Kapyaki, STV’s Select E-Buzz, BTM TV’s Access, and Top TV’s Kachumbali.
During the well-attended meeting at the UCC head office, it was brought to the attention of the invited station managers, producers and presenters that some members of the public had raised concerns about the programmes, alleging that their content was in violation of minimum broadcasting standards.
Whereas the TV stations committed themselves, during the meeting, to address compliance of their programmes, the Commission noted no improvement in the nature and quality of subsequent editions, hence the decision to advise them to reschedule the programmes.
Having reviewed and investigated the nature of the content, the Commission had observed the following:
The programmes contain adult content, sexual innuendos and profanity, with the potential to disturb and harm some members of the public, especially children.
The stations don’t adequately warn their audiences about the nature of content often contained in the programmes.
The presenters of the programmes often appear on air when dressed indecently in skimpy outfits.
The language and statements used by the presenters and guests during the programmes are often abusive, demeaning, derogatory and contain unsubstantiated claims against different personalities.
The programmes often contain inaccurate, misleading and unverified content, which often defames other individuals.
The content in the programmes often invades the privacy of individuals, contains unbalanced reporting, and denies the persons reported against the right of response or an opportunity to reply against the allegations made against them during the programmes.
To protect children and adults who find the content objectionable, the Commission directed the TV stations to, not only stop broadcasting the programmes during the watershed period (5 am – 10 pm) but also ensure that the programmes comply with minimum broadcasting standards enshrined in the Uganda Communications Act, 2013, the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019, and other relevant laws.