Bobi Wine coverage: UCC directs NBS TV to suspend staff

Bobi Wine being arrested on Monday. UCC wants NBS to stop live coverage of such brutal activities. File photo

Government through the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has launched another vicious campaign to gag media freedom ahead of the World Press Freedom Day, slated for May 3 May 2019.

This follows denial of media spaces for opposition politicians across the country, with Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) officials ejected from various radio stations yet other stations face intimidation from security forces for hosting opposition politicians ahead of 2021 polls.

In the latest act, UCC has ordered the Kamwokya-based NBS Television to suspend the head of the news and the programme manager for what the commission calls “repeated breach of minimum broadcasting standards.”

In a letter dated 30th April 2019, UCC says they have in the past warned the television station of failing to meet the minimum standards.

“As you may recall, the commission has previously engaged and warned NBS Television over similar complaints but it is now apparent that NBS Television has refused and/or otherwise ignored the Commission’s earlier warnings.”

The commission adds; “In order to avoid a recurrence of similar breaches during the investigations, and in view of the fact that NBS Television has previously been warned about similar concerns, the Commission hereby DIRECTS as follows: That NBS Television should immediately SUSPEND the Producer, Head of News and Head of Programmes pending conclusion of the investigations.”

UCC also ordered the station to submit the name and qualifications of the holder of the live show and all the recordings of the show within three days.

“Please note that should NBS Television fail/or otherwise refuse to comply with any of the above directives, the Commission shall proceed to determine this complaint and may issue any regulatory sanctions against NBS Television Limited in accordance with Section *11 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013,” UCC’s statement reads.

The offence

On Monday, the television aired live proceedings of the arrest of the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi.

Bobi Wine was first driven to Nagalama Police Station in Mukono, and was later taken to Buganda Road Court which remanded him to Luzira Prison.

The commission says the live broadcasts do not comply with the minimum broadcasting standards.

According to the commission, the said programmes contain content that misrepresents information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead or cause alarm to the public, have extremist or anarchic messages, including incitement of violence for political and/or other purposes.

UCC  also says such programmes incite the public against other members of the public on the basis of their political, religious, cultural and tribal affiliations which is likely to create public insecurity or violence.

It also accuses the station of presenting the programme in a manner that is unbalanced, sensational and often give undue prominence to certain individuals and/or groups of people, which is a breach of the minimum broadcasting standards as enshrined in Section 31 schedule 4 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013.