Makerere University scholar Dr. Fred Kakooza contends that Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is playing catch up in its regulatory role in the media, and actually needs support.
According to Dr. Kakooza, a Multimedia Production and Broadcasting scholar in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University, recent events provide an opportunity and best time to engage all stakeholders gainfully on the type of media Uganda actually wants.
He was speaking to this publication in an interview in the wake of a directive by the UCC Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi to 13 media houses to suspend 39 staff including news managers and producers for alleged breach of the minimum broadcasting standards.
He stressed it is important for all stakeholders to have a good understanding of the media and the type of regulations the country needs. He argued that most media houses in Uganda are now giving more space to entertainment, music, comedy and sports and that media owners and managers want to play safe for fear of the repercussions.
Although UCC had accused media practitioners of breaching the minimum broadcasting standards because of the live coverage of Bobi Wine protests, Kakooza insists that this is part of local content, which shouldn’t be restricted.
He observes that once there is media literacy from across government units and society, it will help media in growing content.
Dr. Kakooza believes that there was no consultative process leading to the drafting of the minimum broadcasting standards.
“I think in coming up with these standards, there should have been a consultative process between the media owners, producers, editors because these are the people that actually deal with production and dissemination of content on a day-to-day basis and they reflect what is happening in society. So you just sit and come up with such standards,” Dr. Kakooza said.
He contends that citizens look at UCC as an alien body trying to implement things they don’t understand.
Kakooza observes that the current standoff between UCC and media houses is a result of lack of a media council, which would be directly in charge of the regulation.
“Most of the time UCC is playing catch up, yes, it’s playing catch up and I think sometimes it doesn’t know what needs to be done,” Kakooza observes.
He contends for instance that it would have been different having a media person at the helm of the regulatory body as they would be able to understand how the industry operates.