Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the Ag. Executive Director of UCC

The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has directed 11 TV stations to switch their adult-themed gossip programmes from evening hours to between 10 pm and 5 am if they wish to keep them on air.

This followed a meeting between UCC officials and representatives of eleven television stations at the Commission head office in Bugolobi on 7th October 2021.

In a letter dated 18th October 2021 to all TV stations, Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the Ag. Executive Director of UCC said stations should ensure that their programmes comply with the Minimum Broadcasting Standards.

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The affected programmes, known for broadcasting mostly gossip and celebrity news, are: NBS TV’s Uncut Sabula and Uncut Kalakata, Spark TV’s Live Wire, Urban TV’s Short Circuit Sonsomola, ABS TV’s Evening Zone, Baba TV’s Poko Poko, and BBS TV’s Roundabout.

Others are; Dream TV’s Tik Taka Sesetura, Kingdom TV’s Kapyaki, STV’s Select E-Buzz, BTM TV’s Access, and Top TV’s Kachumbali.

During the meeting, it was brought to the attention of the invited station managers, producers and presenters that members of the public had raised concerns about the programmes for violating Minimum Broadcasting Standards.

Whereas the TV stations agreed to address compliance of their programmes, the Commission has not observed any improvement in the nature and quality of the programmes, hence the action taken.

Having reviewed and investigated the nature of the content, the Commission observed that the programmes contain adult content, sexual innuendos and profanity, with the potential to disturb and harm some members of the public, especially children.

“The presenters of the programmes often appear on air when dressed indecently in skimpy outfits. The language and statements used by the presenters and guests during the programmes are often abusive, demeaning, and derogatory and contain unsubstantiated claims against different personalities,” UCC said.

The regulator also said the programmes often contain inaccurate, misleading and unverified content, which often defames other individuals and the content in the programmes often invades the privacy of individuals, contains unbalanced reporting, and denies the persons reported against the right of response or an opportunity to reply against the allegations made against them during the programs.

“To protect children and adults who find the content objectionable, the Commission directed the stations to stop broadcasting the programmes during the watershed period (5.00 am – 10.00 pm). The move is in line with the Uganda Communications Act 2013 and Regulation 28 of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019,” she said in a letter to all TVs.

She said: “If the stations wish to continue broadcasting the said programmes after the watershed period, the Ag. Executive Director advised, they must “institute deliberate measures to ensure that the content broadcast during the said programmes complies with the Minimum Broadcasting Standards, the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019, and other laws including but not limited to the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019, and the Computer Misuse Act 2011.”

Failure to comply with the directive would attract appropriate regulatory sanctions, including possible suspension of the station’s broadcasting license in accordance with Section 41 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013.