Friday April 15 2011

Government bans live broadcast of events

By Richard Wanambwa

The government last evening moved to curtail major broadcasting houses when it banned live broadcast of news events around the walk-to-work campaign. BBC’s Joshua Mali told Daily Monitor that a senior source at one of the TV stations affected spoke to him on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) reportedly directed radio and television stations to stop running live coverage of the events.

In its 6pm bulletin, the BBC reported that a verbal instruction had been issued by UCC. Mr Mali said the source revealed that they were told if any of the TV stations that has been carrying live coverage refused to heed the directive, they risked their licence being revoked.

“One of the TV stations confirmed to me in confidentiality that they were told they were not going to broadcast live events but would only give updates,” Mr Mali said. NTV, NBS and a host of other private radio stations have carried live news from the campaign since Monday.

Peter Mwesige, a media consultant and trainer, called the directive to broadcasters “absolutely ridiculous”.
“If it is true, it would be a profound violation to freedom of expression and the right of the people to know what is taking place around them and how they are governed,” he said. “You should absolutely defy it. It is illegal. It is unconstitutional.”

Meanwhile, Internet access for some companies including Daily Monitor was interrupted for some time yesterday afternoon. As a result, this newspaper’s ability to update its website and other web-based media with live feeds was compromised.

Daily Monitor could not reach UCC boss Godfrey Mutabazi as well as ICT Minister Aggrey Awori and Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko as their known phones were switched off all day long.