Monday, April 19, 2010

Uganda's Broadcasting Council Chairman is before court over banning Open air talk-show program

Uganda’s Broadcasting Council chairman is to appear before court over banning open air radio talk shows (Bimeeza)

The chairman of the Broadcasting Council (BC) Eng. Godfrey Mutabaazi is expected to appear before court on Tuesday the 20th/April/ 2010 to explain the ban imposed on open air radio talk shows commonly known as Bimeeza.

Mutabaazi who banned Bimeeza on 11th September 2009 was summoned by the high court judge Vincent Zehurikize to account for his actions and give reasons to that effect.

This followed a petition filled by Bimeeza beneficiary Bukenya Church Ambrose who argued that the government was wrong to ban the open-talk shows saying, it was intended to gag the public, which he called a breach of the right to freedom of speech and free media guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

The open air talk-shows had been ran by many public and private radio stations as far as 2000 to provide platform to all members of the public to enhance their participation in the governance issues and holding their leaders accountable.

During the open air talk-shows, several persons would gather in any place outside the studio of the radio stations and publicly exchange views on any topic including politics, religion, commerce, culture, sports and the like and the exchange of views is broadcast live.

The ban which was communicated to the public by the minister of information, Princess Kabakumba Matsiko via radios and televisions and followed by a press release signed by the chairperson of the Broadcasting Council stated that “the shows were becoming difficult to manage no technical grounds saying, these programmes usually live broadcasts made in a hall and not in a studio”

Section 2(2) used to justify the banning of the talk-shows requires the applicant to provide proof of existence of adequate technical facilities, location of station and geographical areas to which broadcast is to be made and social, cultural and economic values.

The applicant’s lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi said he applied to court to summon Mutabaazi to be cross examined on the affidavit he swore in support of the ban. “I think it is necessary for Mutabaazi to appear court to give account a detailed explanation as to why the talk-shows were banned” Rwakafuuzi added. We also want him (Mutabaazi) to come to court on 20th/04/2010 and tell court where he derives his powers from.

Bukenya contends that the ban violates the right to freedom of expression under Article 29 (1) of the Republic of Uganda which states that every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and the media; to have freedom of thought, conscience and belief which include academic freedom in institutional of learning, to have freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition and freedom of association which shall include the freedom to form and join associations or unions, including trade unions and political and other civic organisations.

He wants the ban on talk-shows lifted.

For more information Contact;

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Plot 16 Clement Hill Road-Nakasero
P.O.Box 71314 Clock Tower Kampala-Uganda
Tel: +256-414-667627 / +256-701-810079
Or visit our website:

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