Five Uganda broadcasters risk losing licences over Bobi Wine coverage

Wednesday March 18 2020

Bobi Wine being arrested on April 29, 2019. UCC had asked media houses to submit recordings of all live programmes and news bulletins aired on that day. PHOTO | MONITOR


Five broadcast stations in Uganda risk losing their licences after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) said it found that they had breached broadcasting standards while covering events that followed the arrest of pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine.

The broadcasters are NTV, NBS, BBS, Bukedde TV and Radio Sapientia.

UCC accuses the stations of breaking various laws including their licence terms and conditions, and the Press and Journalists Act, as well as lack of sufficient safeguards in their editorial policies to address conflict of interest of staff.

In May, the media regulator directed the suspension of producers, head of News and head of Programmes in seven radio and six television stations.

The affected television stations were NBS TV, BBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV and Salt TV, Radio Two-also known as Akaboozi FM, Beat FM, Capital FM, Pearl FM, Sapientia FM and Radio Simba.

Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, was arrested in April for holding an allegedly illegal protest in July 2018. His supporters held protests after he was detained.


UCC said broadcasts of the events, including his court appearance in May, misrepresented "information with the intent to alarm the public and incite violence through extremist or archaic messages."

The agency also faulted the media houses for inciting the public against other members of the public based on their political, religious, cultural and tribal affiliations in a manner likely to create public insecurity or violence.


UCC, in its findings report, said that the five stations should show cause why they their licences should not be revoked.

NBS and NTV, in particular, have been asked to demonstrate that they have adequate measures in place “to ensure that news reporters, anchors, producers and editors remain impartial and non-partisan in the course of their work.”

Four stations -- Salt TV, Capital FM, CBS and Radio Simba -- have been cautioned, while three others have been cleared but with a warning.

“The allegations against Kingdom TV were not backed by adequate evidence to warrant further investigation,” the report says.

The station was, however, been warned against failing to notify UCC about changes in its programming.

Pearl FM has been told to suspend the “The Inside Story” programme until it "can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Commission that it has instituted adequate measures to improve it."

Radio Two Akaboozi and Beat FM have been faulted for failing to install pre-listening and delay devices.

The 52-page report also recommends that broadcast stations train their news reporters, producers and editors in professional reporting, emphasising key provisions of the law and the standards.