Government has released a set of stringent regulations which all broadcasting media houses must comply with.
Flanked by his Minister for National Guidance Rose Namayanja, Director Information in OPM Simon Mayende read out the new regulations in front of members of National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday.
“These are rules we have had enough consultations about and have been agreed upon between us and broadcasters and other stakeholders. We have had consultative meetings from across the country,” Mayende stated adding they don’t expect any of the 250 radio stations in the country to flout these regulations. One of them which Namayanja, Mayende and Godfrey Mutabazi whose UCC organized the meeting emphasized most is the one requiring all media houses to compulsorily allocate prime time to promote government programs and public relations.
Each radio will be required to avail at least one hour fully availed for government agents to explain government programs and policies. This will be once a week on a day the government will choose. Mayende insisted prime time was being defined to refer to anything between 6am to 10am or 6pm to 10pm in the evening.
The content and questions to be asked by moderators will be determined by authorities from relevant ministries who will also determine the topic. Moderators will be in trouble for tolerating provocative and anti-government questions from callers. The government time will strictly be in form of talk shows and not just news items. The station will be obliged to advertise the program three days in advance at its own cost.
Namayanja said this is a good deal because it will help stations meet the UCC requirement to devote 70% of airtime on local content. Mutabazi said there is nothing new because even international outlets like CNN and Sky News often find themselves required by US government to devote prime airtime to covering government and national interest stories.
The new rules also require radio stations to use live feeds from national broadcaster UBC to give live coverage to national events and president’s speeches on days like Budget day, State of nation address, Independence and women’s day celebrations. Failing to appear on radio to defend government programs will attract sanction for government officials including being charged for neglecting duty.
Mayende also revealed these guidelines will be reviewed every after 6 months and that “depending on the circumstances we can relax on them or make them more stringent.” NBS proprietor Kin Karisa, who deputizes NAB chairman Capt Francs Babu, spoke on behalf of hundreds of broadcasters and media owners present.