Members of Parliament debate the UCC’s directive to suspend some individuals in the press
During the plenary sitting of the 2nd May 2019 which was chaired by the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim raised a concern about the directive by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to suspend some journalists. Hon. Ssemujju who is the Opposition Chief Whip relayed his discontentment with the directive by UCC to some media houses (giving an example of NBS Television) to suspend some members of their team on grounds that the nature of content aired during live programmes, breaking news and main news bulletins does not comply with minimum broadcasting standards.
This was following the letter by the UCC on 30th April 2019 addressed to the Managing Director of NBS TV on the subject “ repeated breach of the minimum broadcasting standards.” He noted that it is a violation of freedom of the press and reminded the members that this was happening when the World Press Freedom Day (3rd May) was approaching. He called upon Government to protect press freedoms.
In addition, Hon. Mwijukye Francis raised a concern that some members of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) including Dr. Kiiza Besigye were stopped by the security personnel from speaking to people of Hoima on a radio station even after they had paid Uganda Shillings 1Million for airtime. He observed that the members of the opposition have been stopped from expressing their views on media.
Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, however, informed the members that UCC was executing its mandate of regulating the broadcasts. He said that it is wrong to accuse UCC because it was executing its mandate and advised the dissatisfied parties to take the matters to Court. This generated ‘a hot discussion’ and Hon. Chris pledged to notify the Minister for Information, who was not present, to give a statement on the same next week.