The Observer (Kampala)

23 March 2014

Uganda: Media Get Guidelines On Free Govt Shows

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has unveiled rules to be followed by electronic media in a plan that will see many of them broadcast government programmes for free.

The new plan will see government accommodate an hour on different private broadcast stations to educate people about its various programmes and policies. The guidelines were announced during the recent UCC - Uganda National Broadcasters' Forum at Imperial Royale hotel in Kampala.

Speaking to the stakeholders, Rose Namayanja, the Information and National Guidance minister, said that by availing the airtime, media would be providing free flow of information to the majority of the public.

"Government is willing to do away with the secrecy laws. Amendments are being worked on to comply with the principles of freedom of information," she said.

The proposed live programmes will run for one hour on radio and 30 minutes on TV, in a talk- show format.

"The first 40 minutes should be for the interview of any government official and the last 20 minutes for feedback through phone calls and text messages from listeners," she said.

During the forum, Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director of UCC, said stations should allow government to use their medium since it is a policy that is done the world over. He says that media is not all about making money, and that this is just a step closer to being responsible informants by letting the voice of the government that licensed them be heard.

Simon Mayanja, the chairman of the forum, said listenership was fragmented and, therefore, there was the need to use as many platforms as possible to get the message across.

"All stations should broadcast national events like the Budget reading, State of the Nation address and other celebrations," he says.

Some of the guidelines on the provision of free broadcast airtime include stations allotting prime time for the shows, promoting the programme through jingles and radio mentions for at least three days before the show.

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