By Spy Uganda
Kampala: To bring you up to speed, on Thursday night, during NBS TV’s Front line show, Gov’t mouth piece Ofwono Opondo aka OO revealed that the president would address the nation on Sunday night 22, November 2020 to brief the country on a number of issues, including but not limited, the recent violent riots that rocked the country, living more than 50 dead.
This was later emphasized on Friday morning (Yesterday) by President Museveni’s own Private secretary on media Don Wanyama who, in fact, revealed, through his tweet, that the man from Rwakitura wasn’t going to only address the nation tomorrow (Sunday), but every Sunday evening H.E Yoweri Museveni will be ‘briefing’ the country on various issues till further notice.
Mean while, on the night of Thursday, November 19, 2020, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the national regulator of media industry had sent a lengthy document across all media houses in the country, in which they reminded them of their cardinal duties, among which, to broadcast National Addresses free of charge as per their license terms.
However, a section of media owners under their umbrella organization National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), think this is political campaigns guised as National address, first; to evade their high brid airtime charges, but also, to take advantage of campaigning at the disadvantage of other contestants who may not get the same opportunity the incumbent has, thus creating an imbalance in the distribution of equal airtime if it’s about selling their political agendas.
It’s against that background that the general secretary NAB Joseph Beyanga picked a pen and sought ‘clarification’ from UCC on which terms all media across the country should carry these addresses every Sunday, during the campaign period.
“As you are well aware, the President is also a Presidential Candidate in the 2021 Presidential general elections and as such his address could be perceived by the audience as a campaign message. The Minimum Broadcast Standards provided under the Uganda Communications Act. 2013 demands of broadcasters to be neutral and give every contender for a public office an equal opportunity on such programming,” the letter reads in part.
Read Full Letter Below;
“REQUEST FOR CLARITY ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS BROADCAST
The above-captioned matter refers;
We received your directive to the broadcasters regarding the airing of a national address by His Excellency the President on Sunday the 22 day of November 2020 under the theme “Security and Economic Recovery between 7pm and 9pm.
As you are well aware, the President is also a Presidential Candidate in the 2021 Presidential general elections and as such his address could be perceived by the audience as a campaign message.
The Minimum Broadcast Standards provided under the Uganda Communications Act. 2013 demands of broadcasters to be neutral and give every contender for a public office an equal opportunity on such programming.
Additionally, the UCC Guidelines on the use of media during the General Elections and campaigns 2021 requires broadcasters fo provide balanced and adequate opportunity for citizens, candidates and political parties to express divergent political views.
By carrying the said address, broadcasters may therefore be perceived and faulted for being biased and unfair to the other candidates.
The purpose of this letter is to seek your guidance and clarity on the nature of the President’s address. In case it is a campaign-style address by a candidate, the willing broadcasters ought to be paid for broadcasting the same.
We look forward to your positive and timely response.”
Previously, Media houses have severally complained about the misuse of free airtime to Gov’t meant for national events like the state of the Nation Address, Independence day among other national events.