Uganda Communications Commission-UCC has switched off Kanungu Broadcasting Services –KBS Radio Station in Kanungu town for alleged failure to comply with its directives. The closure of the station comes days after the Commission, which regulates the broadcast industry, directed KBS management to suspend the station manager, Ronalds Agaba and Desmond Kyokwijuka Misri, the host of a Global Focus program and anchor of Rukiga news.
In a letter dated October 17th, 2017 addressed to James Musinguzi Garuga, the Managing Director Kanungu Broadcasting Services, the UCC Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi accuses the duo of breaching the minimum broadcasting standards. Mutabazi explained that the Commission had received numerous complaints about the alleged breach of the minimum broadcasting standards by presenters on Kanungu Broadcasting Services-KBS radio.
“The Commission has noted that these complaints indicate that the broadcast by Kanungu Broadcasting Services are allegedly likely to cause public insecurity and violence,” he wrote. He reminded Musinguzi that all broadcast programs are required to comply with the minimum broadcasting standards, which are spelt out under section 31 schedule 4 of the UCC act.
This among others requires that the program isn’t contrary to public morality, doesn’t promote the culture of violence or ethnic prejudice, especially among children and youths, isn’t likely to create public insecurity and violence. He argued that as a holder of a license under section 29 of the Uganda Communication Act 2013, a licensee and producer have a duty to ensure what is broadcast isn’t contrary to public morality and must retain record of all broadcast content for not less than 60 days.
“In light of the above therefore, the purpose of this letter is to inform KBS that the Commission has initiated investigations into this matter and to that end therefore, hereby orders KBS to immediately suspend the presenter Ronalds Mwengare Agaba and Desmond Kyokwijuka Misri, the radio station producer and his program aired on KBS with immediate effect as investigations are being concluded by the Commission,” reads the letter.
He also asked KBS to submit recordings of all its broadcasts by the aforementioned presenters that have been aired over the past 30 days within a period of 48 hours from the period of receipt of the letter. Our reporter was unable to reach, Musinguzi for a comment to establish whether it had not complied with the directive. But a source at the station told The East African Tribune that the two presenters had been suspended. However, on Saturday, engineers from UCC stormed the station and switched off the station. They also carried away some equipment to ensure the station doesn’t resume operations.
The closure of KBS has drawn angry reactions from residents. They accuse Chris Baryomunsi, the State Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development and Kinkizi East MP for masterminding the closure of the station. Kinkizi, a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party is the proprietor of Kanungu Radio Station.
Tension has been building in the country between voters and legislators allied to the ruling party since they mooted a proposal to lift the presidential age limit. The closure of KBS is believed to be connected to the ongoing debate of the proposed scrapping of the presidential age limit. Article 102 (b) of the Ugandan constitution caps the presidential age at 75 years.