UCC Shutdown Radio Station for two days, orders suspension of senior staff.

Kanungu, 24th October, 2017; On Saturday 21st October 2017, Uganda’s Telecommunication regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) shutdown a private radio station, Kanungu Broadcasting Services Ltd. (KBS) on allegations of breaching the minimum broadcasting standards.

The KBS Radio Director, Mr. Charles Byaruhanga says UCC did not tell them the exact reason for the closure, “They were alleging that we breached broadcasting standards, but when we asked them the exact problem, they did not tell us.” Byaruhanga told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda.

UCC accused KBS of alleged breach of the minimum broadcasting Standards as set forth in section 31 and schedule 4 of the Uganda Communications Commission Act 2013, which calls for a broadcaster to ensure any program it broadcasts is not likely to create public insecurity or violence.

The closure of the radio station came days after it hosted the four time presidential candidate and former President of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change party, Retired Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye, who is currently detained at Police in Naggalama since Thursday 19th Oct, 2017 on claims of holding an illegal assembly in Western Uganda.

On 17th October 2017, UCC instructed KBS management to suspend two of its staff including the Station manager Ronald Agaba also known as Mwene Ngaro and Desmond Kyokwijuka Misairi the host of the Global Focus program and anchor of the Rukiga news, on allegations of fueling public insecurity and violence –a claim which remains unknown to the victims and their employers at KBS radio.

The station was re-opened after a closed meeting between the radio management and other district officials that included the District Chairman, Kinkizi West Member of Parliament and District Councilors at the UCC offices at Bugoloobi in Kampala.

Agaba confirmed to HRNJ-Uganda that he was suspended by his bosses following a directive from UCC, “I was suspended from the radio and as I speak, I am at home, though I don’t know my crime.”

Efforts to get a comment from the Executive Director of UCC Eng. Godfrey Mutabaazi were futile as he was reportedly engaged in a meeting.

KBS Radio is the second shut down this year after Radio Hoima in May this year . Radio Hoima was shut down on grounds of violating the minimum broadcasting standards, though it was later cleared of any wrong doing as earlier alleged and re-opened.

In the same vein, on 26th September 2017, UCC banned all live broadcasts citing discrimination, inciting violence, stirring up hatred, promoting a culture of violence amongst the viewers, threatening to revoke operating licenses for none complying media houses.

The UCC’s actions of shutting down media houses without due process is oppressive and uncalled for. They should carryout thorough investigations before taking any punitive action. Ordering a media house to suspend its staff is going over board, and is not part of UCC’s mandate. Such actions are intended to curtail freedom of expression and media freedom,” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

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