Kampala, 31st/Dec/2010; The Broadcasting Council of Uganda has blocked privately owned radio stations from broadcasting live a conference organized by Buganda Kingdom (Ttabamiruka).
Ttabamiruka is an annual conference organized by Buganda kingdom to review and discuss the social, cultural, economic and developmental issues of the Kingdom. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Poverty and Development’.
The conference held on 17th/Dec/2010, at the Wampewo avenue based Hotel Africana, a suburb of Kampala, was supposed to be broadcasted live by different radio stations including Buganda Kingdom owned radio the Central Broadcasting Services (CBS FM), but were all stopped by the Broadcasting Council (BC).
By the time a directive was made by the Broadcasting Council, CBS FM was already relaying the debates live.
A CBS FM staff who preferred anonymity said the radio received a telephone call from the Broadcasting council suspending the live broadcast- equating it to an open air talk show locally known as ‘Ebimeeza’ which were banned in September 2009.
“We only broadcasted live the speech of the King His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II” a staff said. The radio was accused of not consulting the Broadcasting council on issues to be discussed and aired during the conference.
Buganda Kingdom is one of the largest ethnic groups in Uganda based in the central region, with most of its people languishing in poverty.
The national poverty statistics according to the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that more than 38% of the total population in Uganda lives below poverty line.
The chairman of the Broadcasting Council Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi told Human Rights Network for Journalists –Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that the conference was not much different from the banned Ebimeeza which were broadcasted from the bars.
“We were not informed as a regulatory body about the topics to be discussed and the guests. So what they were doing was illegal because we banned Ebimeeza in 2009. We were even taken to court over our action”. Mutabazi said.
He explained that there is a license requirement that all radio stations planning to have live programmes broadcasting should own pre-listening gadgets but most radio stations have still failed to comply.
“We can tolerate live soccer matches or Independence commemorations but not debates” Eng. Mutabazi stressed.
In September2009, the council arbitrary closed down five privately owned radio stations including 88.8 and 89.2 CBS FM, Ssuubi FM, Radio Sapientia and Radio Two (Akkaboozi) and consequently banned open air radio talk shows.
HRNJ-Uganda feels that the Broadcasting council is over stepping its powers when it begins to regulate people’s thoughts, conscience and information. These actions are illegal because they limit space under which citizens exercise their fundamental freedoms and liberties stipulated under Art. 29 of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda
Art. 29(a) states that, “Every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and the media”
“Ugandans must be free to discuss any issues that touch their lives and their views must be heard by those in authority as a way of holding them accountable, especially during this campaign period. The radio is a primary source of information to Ugandans which must operate independently without interference from the government”. Said the HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairman, Robert Ssempala
In light of this, HRNJ-Uganda calls on the judiciary to speed-up the hearing of a case challenging the Broadcasting council’s power over people’s right to freedom of expression which was filed early 2010.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road – Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627