A day after Uganda Communications Commission-UCC suspended the broadcasting license of ABS television, selected TV viewers interviewed by URN are demanding for more educative and informative programs. On Tuesday, Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC Executive Director issued a statement suspending the broadcasting license of ABS TV for contravening the minimum broadcasting standards.
He accused ABS TV of ignoring several warnings to stop running offensive programs. "In spite of several warnings and attempts to give the management of ABS television time to review its programs and avoid further broadcast of offensive programs, ABS television has continued to broadcast programs that are contrary to the minimum broadcasting Standards." reads part of Mutabazi's letter.
He directed ABS Television to stop broadcasting on all platforms immediately and warned to commence proceedings to revoke the television's broadcast license should the commission failure to receive convincing demonstration from the management of the measures instituted to ensure that all its programs have been modified within 60 days.
This is not the first time ABS TV is trouble with the Commission over the offensive program. On October 28th, 2016, UCC fined ABS TV Shillings 25 million for the repeated breach of the minimum broadcasting standards after which, management undertook not to broadcast any other offensive program.
Section 31 of the UCC Act prohibits any person from broadcasting programmes in breach of Schedule 4 of the act. The schedule provides that a broadcaster or video operator shall ensure that; any programme which is broadcast isn't contrary to public morality; does not promote the culture of violence or ethnical prejudice; and is in compliance with existing law among others.
URN spoke to a number of television viewers about the existing programs on local television. Most of the respondents noted that most of TV programs concentrate on tragic incidences, politics, entertainment, sports and hate language.
They argued that there is need to change the use of airspace and introduce informative and educative programs on issues such as safety, hygiene, health and Agriculture among others that will help build the lives of their audiences.
Brenda Biribonwa, a newspaper vendor, says most media houses give a lot of airspace to politicians who end up attacking each other. "They have programs on TV and Radio, that are supposed to clear the air on certain issues but this has ended up to be a fight on TV,” she said.
Ashraf Mbazira, another television viewer, wants more educative programs, which can help viewers to realize their dreams.
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Timothy Tembo, a youth says there is need for government to restrict things like comedy and sports.
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Jamila Aikoru, a student at YWCA says although many programs on televisions and radios are okay, there is need to ensure they come at the appropriate time. She explains that TV programs likes telenovelas carry adult content, which are broadcast during day time.
She says there is need to protect minors from adult entertainment. Julius Ariho, another TV viewer says some televisions have gone overboard.
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Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC Executive Director, says adult-oriented programs should be appropriately scheduled, adding that the media should be able to perform all the roles including educating, entertaining and informing viewers in line with the constitution of Uganda.
He however, says some media houses have gone overboard by publishing content that is not helpful. In order to acquire a broadcast license, a broadcaster commits to meet the standards of educating, entertaining and informing the public.
A series of reports released by the African Center for Media Excellence (ACME) from 2013 to 2015 show significant imbalance in the coverage of public affairs in Ugandan media. Stories about criminal justice, police, politics, the democratic processes and people and power received great coverage in print media, while areas like extractives, agriculture and health were least covered.
The study notes for instance only 3.3 percent of the stories covered between 2013-2015 focused on public works and infrastructure, and yet this is a sector that most times receives a large portion of the budget while priority areas health and education received 7.5 and 6.5 percent coverage respectively.