By Andrew Irumba
Kampala:The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has lambasted the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for trying to suffocate the media.
UCC’s Executive Director Eng.Godfrey Mutabazi this week issued directives to thirteen media houses to suspend top news editors and managers for allegedly doing coverage that goes bellow the set Minimum Broadcasting Standards.
However, these directives have been regarded by the media fraternity as being unfair and intended to stifle free and fair coverage of all news content, on top of targeting some individual media practitioners.
On Thursday, NAB Chairman Mr.Kin Kariisa, who doubles as CEO Next Media Services which houses NBS TV, one of the affected brands,issued a statement rejecting the said demands and instead suggested for a meeting between the media houses and the regulator.
The statement, titled ‘REPEATED BREACH OF MINIMUM BROADCASTING STANDARDS,’ addressed to UCC boss Eng. Godfrey Mutabaazi reads thus; “National association of Broadcasters (NAB) has received complaints from its members about the harsh reaction of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) towards coverage of some news events, especially those of political nature. It is concerning that some media houses have been instructed to immediately suspend their key staff, specifically heads of Programming, Production and News. NAB and its members believe that media plays a key role in shaping a healthy democracy by exposing loopholes in the democratic system which ultimately help government in filling them and making the system more accountable, responsive and citizen-friendly.
Abrupt suspension of key staff on orders of UCC will have adverse consequences of;
1-Undermining the quality of journalism by creating an environment of fear.
2-Weakening standards and controls already established at the media houses and amplify the risk that led to UCC’s intervention in the first place.
3-Compromising the opportunity for dialogue between UCC and broadcasters based on past relationship.
National Association of Broadcasters hereby recommends that UCC rescinds the order to suspend media staff, pending an urgent meeting between the two parties at your call,” read part of Kin Kariisa letter to UCC.