Communications Sector regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has maintained its order directing television stations in the country to air gossip shows past 10pm.
On Tuesday, news made rounds that UCC had instructed eleven TV stations to switch their adult-themed gossip programmes from evening hours to between 10 pm and 5 am starting today Wednesday if they wish to keep them on air. This was however not officially publicly communicated by officials of the commission or through its social media platforms.
However, on Wednesday evening, the Commission in a statement confirmed the development, further noting that the acting UCC Executive Director communicated the decision to the affected TV stations in her October 18 letter.
The affected programmes 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.
UCC says that it has been receiving several concerns about the programmes for violating Minimum Broadcasting Standards from members of the public, something that prompted it to convene a meeting with representatives of eleven television stations October 7.
At the beginning of this month, presenters and a producer of NBS and Sanyuka televisions Isaac Kawalya alias Kayz, Brian Kennedy Waako and Williams Makuliro were arrested and remanded to prison on allegations of offensive communication and criminal libel after allegedly launching a verbal attack on singer Emmanuel Ssuuna alias Omulangira Ssuuna during the shows.
Many members of the public have expressed disapproval the conduct of gossip shows on a number of TV stations where presenters have for long exhibited unprofessionalism by way of trading insults, lies, false propaganda, indecent dressing, etcetera.
“Whereas the TV stations agreed to address compliance of their programmes, the Commission has not observed any improvement in the nature and quality of the programmes, hence the action taken,” says the Communications Sector regulator.
The Commission explains that it continues to observe that the programmes contain adult content, sexual innuendos and profanity, with the potential to disturb and harm some members of the public, especially children and that the stations don’t adequately warn their audiences about the nature of content often contained in the programmes.
It also accuses the presenters of the said programmes of often appearing on air when dressed indecently in skimpy outfits.
“The language and statements used by the presenters and guests during the programmes are often abusive, demeaning, derogatory and contain unsubstantiated claims against different personalities,” says the Commission.
“The programmes often contain inaccurate, misleading and unverified content, which often defames other individuals,” it adds
UCC also highlights that the content in the programmes often invades the privacy of individuals, contains unbalanced reporting, and denies the persons reported against the right of response or an opportunity to reply against the allegations made against them during the programs.
To the effect, UCC says such programmes should be restricted from the watershed period in order to protect children and other people who find it inappropriate.
“To protect children and adults who find the content objectionable, the Commission directed the stations to stop broadcasting the programmes during the watershed period (5.00 am – 10.00 pm). The move is in line with the Uganda Communications Act 2013 and Regulation 28 of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019,” says the Commission.
However in the letter to the affected stations, the acting UCC Executive Director advised that if they wish to continue broadcasting the said programmes after the watershed period, they must “institute deliberate measures to ensure that the content broadcast during the said programmes complies with the Minimum Broadcasting Standards, the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019, and other laws including but not limited to the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019, and the Computer Misuse Act 2011.”
Failure to comply with the directive, she said, would attract appropriate regulatory sanctions, including possible suspension of the station’s broadcasting license in accordance with Section 41 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013.