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UCC suspends suspension of journalists

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UCC suspends suspension of journalists

The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have agreed that no journalist among the 39 from 13 media houses, whom the UCC had wanted suspended, can continue to work as investigations go on over the next 30 days.

The UCC recently asked 13 media houses to suspend their producers over what it called breach of minimum broadcast standards.
The agreement not to suspend the journalists was reached at during a meeting at the UCC headquarters in Bugolobi, Kampala, on May 7.
Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, told journalists: We have reached a consensus that these people can still work in their respective organization but not in the particular positions they have been working. An Editor can be made manager or any other position depending on your company.

Mutabazi said the investigation would focus mainly on the minimum broadcasting standards.

Ibrahim Kibuuka Bbossa, the head of public relations and international relations at UCC, said that investigators would also also look at the qualifications of the different individuals implicated.

Background
On 1st May 2019, the telecommunication regulator UCC ordered the suspension of 39 producers, heads of programming and heads of news in 13 media houses. These included NBS TV, BBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV, and Salt TV and seven radio stations which are Akaboozi fm, Capital fm, Beat fm, pearl fm, Sapentia fm and radio Simba.

The commission accused these media houses claimed that it has observed misrepresentations information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead or cause alarm to the public during live broadcasts and main news bulletins.
UCC further accused the media houses of airing programs that have extremist or anarchic messages, including incitement of violence for political and/or other purposes and inciting public against other members of the public based on their political, religious, cultural and tribal affiliations which are likely to create public insecurity or violence.

This suspension got mixed reactions from the journalists, public and different organizations who saw it as one of the mandate of hindering opposition from accessing the space on different media platforms.
On Monday The Uganda Law Society (ULS) said that Uganda Communications Communication (UCC) has no authority to order media houses to suspend journalists.

But in a letter issued on Monday, ULS president Simon Peter Kinobe said disciplinary action against journalists is the mandate of the Media Council and not UCC.
UCC does not have any legal mandate to order suspension of any media staff. Disciplinary action against journalists is the mandate of the Media Council, whose functions are clearly articulated in section 10(1) of the Press and Journalist Act, Cap 105, Mr. Kinobes letter reads in part.
The agreement that is most likely to be implemented starting today will leave all the 39 media practioners step aside as investigations go on by UCC.

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