of ICT and National Guidance, Judith Nabakooba has promised to work with the
relevant bodies to review the guidelines on the mandatory free airtime offered to government
in Radio and TV stations.
In 2014, Uganda
Communications Commission (UCC) issued a guideline requiring all licensed radio
and television stations to give a free weekly hour to government
officials to talk about government programmes and other issues of national
This has since
become a licensing condition as electronic media owners are required to accept
that they will offer one hour during prime time on their stations for the same purpose
and other government events like budget reading and presidential speeches.
a meeting on Monday, journalists told Nabakooba that the hour is being misused while at the same time it is causing loses to the
media industry since it is for free.
In an event
that was held at Nyaika hotel, radio presenters and moderators from Tooro Sub
region told Nabakooba that Resident District Commissioners – RDCs have since
hijacked the hour and they determine who should use it.
told her that instead of having technical staff in the respective districts use
the hour to explain issues that fall under their dockets, the hour is being
given to National Resistance Movement – NRM supporters to promote the party
Kasangaki from Life FM in Fort Portal told the minister that he resigned from
his job of being in charge of moderating guests invited for the free hour
because they had stopped him from questioning them during the programmes.
that he was hosting the same people all the time and they were lacking information
to give to the public, something that forced him to give up on the job.
from Voice of Tooro – VOT told Nabakooba that even the NRM supporters who
normally utilize the hour after being authorized by RDCs, do not have anything
new to tell the public other than praising the party for the past achievements.
recommended that the time should be given to the technical people who can ably
explain government programmes without going political.
agreed with the journalists and said that since she had received similar
complaints from other parts of the country, the airtime usage will be revised to
ensure it is not misused.
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Bbosa, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) consumer affairs manager argued that even when the free airtime seems
to have issues, it is necessary because it is aimed at ensuring government programmes
are known by the public.
that electronic media houses have paid a lot of attention to making profits through
adverts and paid programmes and have left out the role of informing their
audiences about issues of national interest.
was meeting journalists to discuss the challenges they face while doing their
work. Some of the challenges the journalists raised included low or no pay,
brutality from security agencies, and exorbitant licence fees for radios and
other media houses.
to raise some of the challenges in cabinet for a way forward and also organize capacity
building sessions to promote professionalism.