Uganda: Broadcasting Council Rules Against NTV

Broadcast

The Monitor (Kampala) reported on February 5th that the Broadcasting Council (BC) on Saturday ignored an appeal by NTV Uganda for reinstatement and instead ruled that the station should stay off air indefinitely. BC claims that the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) transmission equipment that NTV uses do not conform to the required technical standards, something that UBC refuted yesterday.

NTV was for the second time shut down on Friday morning, barely two days after its signal was reinstated by the state-run UBC. The station was earlier put off air for four days by UBC. Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, who heads BC, the body that regulates local broadcasters, told Daily Monitor that his council had ruled on Saturday that "NTV stays off air until UBC complies with the technical requirements." "We don't have any quarrel with NTV. We are only regulators and according to the law, everyone must comply. One must broadcast when he has sufficient infrastructure. NTV chose to use UBC's infrastructure for its transmission and we are saying UBC does not have what it takes," he said.

Mr Mutabazi, however, could not tell this reporter what exactly is not in place. "These are technical issues. Its better I take you to the UBC (transmission) mast at Kololo and I show you what we are talking about. Let's do that next week."

But UBC's Acting Managing Director Musinguzi Mugasa, told Daily Monitor that the alleged compliance demanded by BC does not call for switching off a broadcaster. "This (clean-up) is a routine exercise. You can speak to the structural engineers: you don't have to switch off a broadcaster just because you want to remove dead cabling off the mast," Mr Mugasa said. He said UBC had written to BC notifying it of the ongoing clean-up exercise. "There is a clean-up ending tomorrow. We don't switch off any station in order to do this. Aren't the other nine stations on air now?" Mugasa asked.

The management of NTV Uganda said they were not served with a seizure note, before BC carried away its microwave receivers. They say the move is unfair and contrary to the Electronic Media Act. "We are aware of Council's view that the mast requires cleaning, mainly of dead cabling and that it is not the responsibility of Africa Broadcasting (U) Limited, trading as NTV Uganda, the tenant, but UBC as the landlord and owner of the mast," reads NTV's appeal to BC in part.