UCC officials while meeting broadcasters on October 7.

The Uganda Communications Commission has asked producers and presenters of specific programmes on 12 TV stations to comply with minimum broadcasting standards or risk regulatory sanctions.

The presenters, producers and station managers on Thursday, 7th October 2021, held a meeting with UCC officials at the head office in Bugolobi to discuss the controversial programmes that have been subject to increasing complaints from members of the public.

The programmes, which predominantly air gossip and celebrity news, include 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.

Viewers who complained to the Commission alleging that the language, tone and statements used by the presenters and their guests are often abusive, demeaning, derogatory, and contain unsubstantiated claims against the different subjects of their discussions.

Broadcast managers and owners during the meeting.

In invitation letters sent to the concerned stations on October 4, 2021, the UCC Ag. Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo wrote that the Commission had “noted with concern the increasing number of complaints from different members of the public” regarding the programmes in question.

The Ag. Executive Director revealed that the complainants allege that the content broadcast through these programmes offends the minimum broadcasting standards and the Uganda Communication (Content) Regulations in the following ways:

That the language and statements used by the presenters and guests in the programmes are often abusive, demeaning, derogatory, and contain unsubstantiated claims against different personalities

That the programmes contain inaccurate, misleading and unverified content, which often defame individuals

That the content in the programmes often invade the privacy of individuals, contains unbalanced reporting, and denies the persons reported against the right of response or an opportunity to reply against allegations made against them during the programmes

That the programmes contain adult-oriented content, sexual innuendos and profanity, with the potential to disturb and harm children

That the presenters of the programmes often appear on air when dressed indecently in skimpy outfits

Considering the adult-oriented nature of the content discussed during these programmes, they are not appropriately scheduled. As a result, the audience is not warned about the nature of content often contained in the programmes.

Accordingly, the Commission cited Sections 5(1)(b),(x), and (j), 29(h), 31 and 45 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 as it instituted investigations into the complaints.

During the well-attended meeting, UCC officials led by Mr Meddie Kaggwa, the Head of Multimedia, and Abudu Sallam, Head of Legal, noted that the Commission had decided to invite station managers producers and presenters instead of proprietors because the former are directly responsible for content.

The producers and presenters were also told that in the spirit of consultation and engagement, the Commission preferred to discuss the complained about programmes before opting for regulatory sanctions.

The TV station representatives were further informed that if the violations complained about continued, the Commission would be forced to consider suspending the offending programmes or force those with adult content to be rescheduled to more appropriate time.

Some TV station managers, producers and presenters who contributed to the lively discussion argued that theirs are simply gossip shows, which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, the UCC officials clarified that the law requires all aired content to comply with minimum broadcasting standards.