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Monday, September 14, 2009

Here is the letter closing CBS radio

11th September 2009
The General Manager
Central Broadcasting Service (CBS)
Bulange, Mengo


We refer to the Electronic Media Act, and more specifically to section 7 read together with section 8 thereof, which requires that the right to broadcast be exercised in accordance with the minimum broadcasting standards which are contained in the First schedule to the Act.

We also refer to the terms and conditions for operating a broadcasting license duly executed by Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) as a prerequisite for the renewal of the license for the period 2009/2010.

As you may be aware, non compliance by Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) with the minimum broadcasting standards and other general provisions of the law has been the subject of continued dialogue between the Broadcasting Council and the management of (CBS) from September 2007 to date.

The Public Spectrum Rationale

Note that the electromagnetic spectrum has been deemed, since the beginning of broadcast regulation, to be a publicly owned natural resource. This "scarce public resource" rationale forms the foundation on which broadcast regulation is based. In the case of Uganda, the Government allocates frequencies to broadcasters

including Central Broadcasting Services to be utilised within the framework of the Electronic Media Act and other relevant laws. It must be emphasised at this point that the electromagnetic spectrum remains the property of the Government of Uganda and has simply been allocated to a broadcaster to be utilised as per agreed terms and conditions.

The Minimum Broadcasting Standards and the Terms and Conditions
The minimum broadcasting standards requires that:
(a) any programme which is broadcast:
(i) is not contrary to public morality;
(ii)does not promote the culture of violence or ethnical prejudice among the public, especially the children and the youth;
(iii) in the case of a news broadcast is free from distortion of facts;
(iv) is not likely to create public insecurity or violence;
(v) is in compliance with the existing law;

(b) Programmes that are broadcast are balanced to ensure harmony in such programmes;

(c) Adult -oriented programmes are appropriately scheduled

(d) Where a programme that is broadcast is in respect to a contender for a public office, then each contender is given equal opportunity on such a programme

You will recall that the Broadcasting Council and the management of CBS have held a series of meetings to address pertinent issues that arose in 2007 and 2008 and on the whole CBS had agreed to operate within the ambit of the Electronic Media Act and more specifically, had undertaken to comply with the Minimum broadcasting standards.

In providing proof of compliance with provisions 4, 10 and 11 of the Licensing Terms and Conditions in the previous year prior to the renewal, CBS stated that it had broadcast programs that promote public interest, local content and diversity in program content, programs that deal with educational services and safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, social and economic fabric of Uganda and programs that ensure pluralism in the provision of news, views and information.

Furthermore the terms and conditions have embedded under provision 11, the minimum broadcasting standards which CBS undertook to comply with. The Licensee (CBS) undertakes under provision 13 that the Council may cancel the license by notice in writing for breach of any of the provisions contained in the Licensing Terms and Conditions.

The Broadcasting Council duly issued to CBS broadcasting licenses in respect of its stations for the year 2009/2010. We would like to emphasise that it was understood that the issues that had been raised in 2007/2008 would be adequately addressed by CBS in order to warrant the renewal of the broadcasting license.

Major Issues arising in 2007/2008
The issues that arose during the period in question, that is 2007/2008 included:
• Compliance with the minimum broadcasting standards generally
• Compliance with sections 4 and 5 of the Electronic Media Act in respect of the registration of producers and presenters with the Media Council
• Adequacy of Technical facilities which included installation of a pre-listening devise and inadequacy of the facilities that are used for the Mambo Bado Programme (which is a live broadcast made in a hall and not in a studio)

Meetings of 24th August 2007 and 7th September 2007
For your ease of reference we refer to the meetings of 24th August 2007 and 7th September 2007 which arose out of complaints made to the Broadcasting Council by the Police in respect of programmes by several radio stations including Central Broadcasting Services (CBS).

The two meetings agreed to a way forward and the broadcasters including CBS undertook:
• To comply with the minimum broadcasting standards;
• To guide personalities who are invited to discuss on talk shows by giving them guidelines;
• Instruct and take charge of their presenters / producers;
• Ensure that producers / presenters strictly adhere to the script during discussions;
• Scrutinise topics in respect of their sensitivity in relation to the public;
• Invite two persons with divergent views to discuss each topic in order to ensure balance;
• To make guests sign disclaimers before she / he goes on air taking responsibility for their actions;
• Not to invite the same persons to appear on the same programme repeatedly;
• To inform the Broadcasting Council within two weeks of the meeting of August 24, 2008, of action that had been taken against the producers / presenters mentioned in the meeting.

Meeting of January 30, 2008
Thereafter the Council received further complaints in respect of the Mambo Bado Program of 28th December 2007 which led to the meeting of 30th January 2008. At that meeting the Broadcasting Council raised the same issues in respect of the Mambo Bado Program of 28th December 2007.

The meeting of 30th January 2008 agreed to maintain the way forward agreed to in the meetings of Friday August 24, 2007 and Friday September 7, 2007 which therefore formed part of the position of 4th February 2008 arising out of that meeting.

Meeting with the Minister of ICT Held on 17th October 2008
Thereafter the Broadcasting Council received a complaint in respect of the Mambo Bado Programme of Saturday 11th October 2008. In an attempt to resolve the matter more conclusively, the then Hon. Minister of Information and Communications Technology chaired the meeting between the Broadcasting Council and CBS on the 17th October 2009 and all the instances of our dialogue were reviewed as a true sequence of events.

The most pertinent outcome of that meeting was that it was agreed that guidance will, at the beginning of the Mambo Bado Program be made by the presenter on the subject matter and on the rules of engagement during the discussion of the topic of the day so as to ensure compliance to the minimum broadcasting standards.

Suffice it to note at this point that the Broadcasting Council noted and duly communicated failure by CBS to comply to this position during the Mambo Bado Program of 18n October 2008, which was the following day after the meeting with the Minister.
This situation confirmed then, as it does presently, what the Broadcasting Council had submitted during the meeting with the Minister that the inability of producers or presenters to effectively manage the programs in question (Mambo Bado, Crossfire, Twejjukanye and Kkriza oba Gana) is one of the factors in the failure by CBS to comply with the minimum broadcasting standards as specified in the Electronic Media Act.

Non- Licensing of CBS in 2008
Due to the continued breach by CBS, the Council convened a meeting with the management of CBS on the 20th November 2008. During that meeting the Secretary of the Council gave the genesis of non-licensing of CBS 89.2, explaining that the programmes Kiriza oba Gaana, Mambo Bado, Cross Fire and Twejukanye aired on CBS 89.2 occasioned breach of the Minimum Broadcasting standards.

In addition the producers and presenters of these programmes were not qualified and therefore failed to manage the programmes. The Secretary pointed out that several meetings were held with the Management of CBS concerning those programmes whenever CBS 89.2 was operating outside the law and this had resulted in CBS not being licensed for the past six months.

During that meeting CBS undertook to:
• Pre-record some programmes.
• Suspend errant presenters/moderators
• Cooperate with the Broadcasting Council
• Regulate controversial political programmes.
• Restrain abusive/outspoken guests
• Minimise programmes that bring confrontation with Central Government
• Invite the Broadcasting Council to CBS to give guidelines to the discussants as to how programmes should be presented and explain the functions of the Council.
• Balance topics and ensure that discussants are from divergent groups.
• Invite Government officials to CBS to explain certain topics.
• Contact the Media Council once again for registration of its journalists, many of whom had qualifications.

The Council therefore agreed to issue to CBS a provisional broadcasting licence for six months and would closely monitor CBS programmes to ensure that minimum broadcasting standards are complied with. On completion of the period of 6 months, the Committee would review the performance of CBS to give appropriate remedies based on their observations.

In its letter of January 21,2009 the Council communicated its position on the licensing of CBS. Due to the progress made by CBS in complying with the minimum broadcasting standards, the Council amended its earlier resolution and agreed to issue to CBS a broadcasting license for one year.

Meeting of 3rd August 2009
The main agenda was stated as deviation by CBS once again from agreed positions which were arrived at during the meeting of 26th November 2008 and other prior meetings. This it was pointed out, arose out of a number of complaints received by the Broadcasting Council from different sectors of the public and institutions in respect of the Twejjukanye Programme which was broadcast on Sunday 19n July 2009 and the Mambo Bado Programme which was broadcast on 25th July 2009. Excerpts of these broadcasts were read out to CBS.

The Committee further informed CBS that it has taken the opportunity to listen to the recordings in respect of the programmes in question and found that they raise the same issues that have been the subject of continued dialogue between CBS and the Broadcasting Council. The issues revolve around the non compliance by CBS with the minimum broadcasting standards, which was responsible for the delay in the renewal of CBS's license in 2008.

CBS acknowledged that it had once again reneged on its undertaking to comply with agreed positions that have been the subject of the continued dialogue. While stating its apology, CBS pleaded exceptional circumstances prevailing at the time of the broadcasts that is between the period 12th July 2009 to 2nd August 2009.
By its letter of 3rd August 2009, the Committee sought clarification from CBS as to the exceptional circumstances so as to be guided in its decision. While CBS responded in its subsequent letter the exceptional circumstances have never been explained.

Complaints arising in September 2009
While the issues raised at the meeting of 3rd August 2009 are still pending, CBS has once again reneged on its understanding. The Broadcasting Council has taken exception to the role that CBS has been playing in mobilizing and inciting the public to riot around the Kakaba's planned visit to Kayunga District. This is evidenced by the escalation of violence which resulted in lose of life and property and brought business to a stand still in some parts of the city on the 10.09.09

Non Compliance with Provisions of the Penal Code Act
Note that CBS is also required to comply with other provisions of the law. The programmes in question the contravention of sections 39 and 40 of the Penal Code Act Cap 120 which provide for seditious intention and seditious offences.

Suspension of Operations &. Withdrawal of License
We note that while CBS made an undertaking not to keep inviting the same personalities to these programmes this has not been complied with.

We further note that the consistent dialogue between the Broadcasting Council and the management of CBS does not seem to yield the desired results and the undertakings by the Management of CBS on the whole have not translated into action on your part.

The Council therefore proceeds under section 10 and section 25 of the Electronic Media Act. Section 10(a) and (h) provide broadly for the powers and functions of the Council.

Section 10 provides for the functions of the Council to include:
(a) To coordinate and exercise control over and to supervise broadcasting
(b) To carry out any other function that is incidental to any of the foregoing

Section 25 (1) provides that the Council or its duly authorised officer may confiscate any electronic apparatus which is used in contravention of this Act.
The Council further proceeds under section 6 of the Electronic Media Act. In executing its duties under section 6 which provides for issuing of broadcasting licenses, the Council formulated licensing Terms and Conditions which are duly executed by CBS. The Terms and Conditions have embedded under provision 11, the minimum broadcasting standards which CBS undertook to comply with. The Licensee (CBS) further undertakes under provision 13 that the Council may cancel the license by notice in writing for breach of any of the provisions contained in the Licensing Terms and Conditions.

The Council therefore withdraws CBS's broadcasting license in accordance with section 6 and section 10 of the Electronic Media Act and the Terms and Conditions for Operating a License.

Godfrey Mutabazi
C.C. Hon. Minister Information and Communications Technology
C.C. Hon. Minister Information & National Guidance
C.C. Attorney General, Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs
C.C. Inspector General of Police

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