The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has warned all broadcasters and online data communication service providers to follow the law while covering and broadcasting live events lest they face dire consequences.
In a statement dated November 19, 2020, Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the Acting Executive Director UCC, says they have noted with concern that broadcasters and online bloggers are not using their platforms in line with the law when relaying live programs, breaking news stories and prime news bulletins. She said some of the information is distorted and is likely to mislead the public, broadcast extremist messages/content that is likely to incite violence against sections of the public and reporting of events in a sensational, unbalanced and unprofessional manner.
She adds that some broadcasters have been relaying content that may compromise national security and cause economic sabotage on top of broadcasting gruesome pictures of dead bodies, wounded victims of attacks without adequate warning to their audience and not considering the likely effect of such images to the public. “Others have been broadcasting programs in a manner that glorifies lawlessness and undermines public interest, confidence in law and its enforcement in Uganda,” she said.
She says that broadcasters must comply with the minimum broadcasting standards, content regulations and the guidelines for Electronic media broadcasters for coverage and broadcast of live events. She added that in enforcing their mandate as stipulated in Section 5(1) of the UCC Act 2013, the broadcasters and online data communication service providers must exercise extra vigilance professionally and strictly adhere to laws, regulations, standards and guidelines applicable to the broadcasting sector in Uganda with the aim of protecting public interest and ensure harmonious co-existence in society.
“You must desist from broadcasting prohibited content as defined under Regulation 8 (2) of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations S.1 No. 91 of 2019 which provides that an operator shall not broadcast any material that uses offensive language, glorifies violence, is not compliant with the law and is likely to create public insecurity and violence. She also reminded the broadcasters to honor their legal and license obligations including complying with relevant laws like sections 31 and 32 and Schedule 4 of the UCC act 2013, and the Press and Journalistic Act Cap 105.
“You also need to note that according to sections 21, 51 and 83 of the Penal Code Act, it is criminal to publish/broadcast any content that is likely to commit the commission of violence or any other offence,” she said. She cautioned the broadcasters that in order to avoid the risk of noncompliance with the law, they need to refrain from conducting live broadcasts programs (live programs and breaking live news stories) without installing the requisite technical facilities.
She further warned that noncompliance with the above obligations will attract dire consequences because the commission shall not hesitate to institute regulatory sanctions against any broadcaster for breaching the law, regulations, standards and guidelines.
In the past few days, social media has been awash with several gruesome pictures from the riots that erupted after the arrest of National Unity Platform (NUP) party president Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. The rioters were protesting the manner in which Kyagulanyi was arrested and his recent detention at Nalufenya Police Station in Jinja. Reports say that over 38 people have been killed and scores injured during the riots.