UCC boss Geoffrey Mutabazi, the man at the centre of the controversial letter asking editors to be sacked.

The Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi is making headlines in the local media, social media following his directive to a number of private broadcast media houses that they suspend their senior staff on account of allegedly failing to adhere to the set minimum broadcasting standards.

The affected media houses include; NTV, NBS TV, BBS TV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV and Salt TV. Others are; Akaboozi FM, Beat FM, Capital FM, CBS FM, Pearl Fm, Sapientia FM and Radio Simba.

The above media houses are regarded by the Ugandan audience as some of the best information providers as they employ top-notch journalists including producers, editors and others. As such most Ugandans tune in to the above stations especially NTV, NBS, Bukedde TV, Capital FM, Akaboozi Fm and Radio Simba. This development seems to be a blow to Mr. Mutabazi who is paid by taxpayers to do his work.

The above broadcasters which launched in different years have ensured that the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation which runs different radio Uganda channels and UBC TV, remain unpalatable to the Ugandan audience due to poor organisation and poor programming.

The broadcast stations under attack by UCC have invested in infrastructure, human resource to deliver the quality programmes that have become popular with Ugandans to the extent that most Ugandans don’t really see any relevance of having a national broadcaster UBC, which despite being spent on billions of shillings by the taxpayers remains among local broadcasters with less audience. You only have to move across the country to realise that.

One wonders whether Mr Mutabazi is working to kill the creativity that the private broadcasters are introducing to the Ugandan audience. That he has asked for the sacking/suspension of journalists speaks volumes. In any profession workers make mistakes and sacking them is not the best option. Other remedies can be employed and Mutabazi who seems to be working tirelessly for the NRM regime in expectation of a future reward, cannot think of alternatives apart from firing the scribes.

UCC is also blamed slow pace ICT in rural areas where majority Ugandans leave. It has failed to do their major job and only seems to be focussed on media that UCC thinks is not in the good books of the current government.

UBC is on record for not availing presidential candidates equal time during campaigns in the recent past polls which is a violation of the electoral law. Dr Kiiza Besigye and his FDC party are on record for having dragged UBC to court on this issue even after paying fees for that work. In 2016 Supreme Court directive that UBC provides coverage to all candidates during campaigns. Unfortunately the public never saw Mutabazi reign on UBC for this unprofessional conduct. He kept quiet. It would be a different story for Mutabazi if a private broadcaster did the same.

Mutabazi fails to condemn harassing of journalists

In the past many journalists including broadcast journalist have been hit, beaten, and brutalised by both state security agents and other individuals but we have never heard UCC come out to condemn such acts on the journalists. In fact for Mutabazi, it appears his role is to see the private media erased from Uganda as it does not please his boss.

The UCC top officials has failed to recognise that he is also obliged to help the Ugandan media grow. Instead he appears to be working to kill them all, probably in favour of the boring UBC channels which government now wants to boost with an extra Shs18.5 billion despite the fact that they failing to attract audience. A few years back UBC got about Shs4 billion for revamping but that money was misused and as such UBC channels cannot compete with private ones which sink money in arrears that attract audience and as such attract advertisements.

We know that government has deliberately denied some private media houses advertisements just because they seem them as opposition linked channels. They would rather give them to those they see as mouthpieces of government. Government forgets that the private media houses employ Ugandans, pay taxes, use utilities but also co Parliament approves Shs18.5 billion to revamp national broadcaster that remains unattractive to the Ugandan audience. Parliament has approved a recommendation to provide up to Shs18.5 billion to complete the revamping of contribute to corporate social responsibility.

UBC failing to adhere to electoral reforms

UBC is on record for not availing presidential candidates equal time during campaigns in the recent past polls which is a violation of the electoral law. Dr Kiiza Besigye and his FDC party are on record for having dragged UBC to court on this issue even after paying fees for that work. In 2016 Supreme Court directive that UBC provides coverage to all candidates during campaigns. Unfortunately the public never saw Mutabazi reign on UBC for this unprofessional conduct. He kept quiet. It would be a different story for Mutabazi if a private broadcaster did the same.