11 January 2013

Uganda: Radio Station Cries Foul After UCC Suspends Political Talk Shows

Nulu Byamukama, the proprietor of the Fort Portal-based Hits FM and the Member of Parliament for Kitegwenda County in Kamwenge District has labeled UCC's recent order to suspend two popular political talk shows from airing on his station as a 'witch hunt.'

The Uganda Communication Communications Commission (UCC) is currently investigating Hits FM, a Fort Portal-based radio station for airing 'abusive' political views.

The two political talk shows, 'Ekitangazo' has been airing every week on Thursday while 'Orukurato' has been airing on Saturday and both programmes often host influential panelists who include district and municipal council leaders, MPs, human rights activists and civil society activists. The shows have been focusing on accountability of public funds and service delivery.

On Dec. 29 last year, according to Hits FM management, UCC instructed the station not to host Alex Ruhunda, the Fort Portal Municipality MP on grounds that the talk show had been suspended.

The UCC letter claimed that talk show guests have been inciting violence against some government officials. The radio was also told to avail recordings to the commission of all political talk shows and programmes for investigations.

According to Byamukama, the station has since provided the recordings of the two talk shows which ran from Dec. 24 to Dec.28.

But even as the investigations continue, Byamukama said UCC advised the radio management to adjust the content of the talk shows and broadcast government development projects instead of airing controversial political issues.

Byamukama said the station had complied with the UCC directive and were waiting for the way forward.

"At the moment, Hits does not talk politics," Byamukama told The Independent.

However, he said he suspects a witch hunt because all radio stations in the region, including Voice of Toro, Better, Life and Gold FM do political programmes.

"All radio stations in the region talk much more politics than Hits does. I want to hear whether they are going to suspend their programmes as well," Byamukama said.

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