Uganda Broadcasters faulted for failing to stand up to UCC - Whisper Eye

Uganda Broadcasters faulted for failing to stand up to UCC

Members of Parliament have faulted the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for failing to counter unfair directives and policies by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

The matter came up yesterday when a team of NAB officials led by Vice chairperson Peter Ssematimba was  appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Human rights to answer to cases of rights violations of Journalists, UCC directives and poor pay for journalists by media houses.

Serere County MP Patrick Okabe says NAB has remained silent in the face of very harsh decisions from UCC, some of which threaten the operations of radio stations and freedom of expression. He says for instance, that UCC and NAB agreed to suspend journalists and at some point, NAB sided with the regulator against the media houses and journalists.

Similarly, Robert Ssempala, the Executive Director of Human Rights Network for Journalists-HRNJ says that indeed NAB is in bed with UCC, and has as such, failed to raise pertinent media issues and stand up for the rights of journalists. Ssempala had appeared together with NAB before the committee.

However, Ssematimba dismissed the accusations. He says that on several occasions, they have challenged UCC decisions, like defending rights of journalists when they were suspended. He adds that they are working with UCC to raise media standards in the country.

UCC in May ordered for the suspension of up to 39 journalists over alleged breach of broadcasting standards. UCC said the accused media houses broadcast unbalanced, sensational reports.

NAB agreed with UCC to suspend the journalists as investigations were ongoing. However, only Captain Francis Babu, a member of NAB stood out to Mutabaazi challenging the manner in which he handled the case of the journalists.

In 2017, UCC also directed media houses to broadcast President Museveni’s end of year message, and NAB did not contest this but encouraged the 60 member associations to comply.