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Media houses asked to allow Museveni’s weekly address amidst campaigns

Stakeholders in the media at a press briefing on the guidelines on the use of media during the electoral period.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and Uganda Media council have asked media houses to broadcast President Museveni’s weekly national address in the midst of campaigns.

Presidential press secretary Don Wanyama recently announced that all media houses will be required to broadcast President Museveni’s address to the nation every Sunday.

However, this raised questions among the media fraternity and the public especially that President Museveni would be getting free media space compared to the other 10 presidential candidates.

As a result, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) wrote to UCC seeking clarification on the matter. Now in a press conference hosted by UCC, media houses have been guided to give President Museveni the airtime on grounds that he is still a sitting President.

Kin Kalisa, the chairperson NAB said there were concerns that the President’s national address would be interpreted as campaigns. He sought clarification from UCC.

Paul Ekochu, the chairperson of the Media Council says that although it is subject to further interpretation, the President remains the President, and he remains with the duty to update the country. He says however, the media houses themselves can judge if the content of the address is a campaign or national address.

On their part, UCC led by its Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo said that there were some media houses stuck and decided to consult with UCC.

Meanwhile, media houses have been urged to remain objective and avoid bias during the election process especially during the scientific campaigns.

Waiswa Abudu-Sallam, the head legal and compliance at UCC said that media houses should strictly adhere to the guidelines issued by UCC. He says media houses should ensure that they are not perceived or seen as biased or unfair.

Asked why some candidates were still being blocked from accessing media houses, Waiswa said that so far, they have received no complaints from candidates.

Kin Kalisa who also doubles as the owner of NBS TV, when asked why they didn’t cover the arrest of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and instead concentrated on covering President Museveni’s address on that day, he said that they devised a new policy against covering riots and anything that might spread violence.

He however says they had a program running and paid for that would not be stopped for a news event taking place, and could be broadcasted later in the day.

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