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UBC, EC harmonizing media access for presidential candidates

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and the Electoral Commission are harmonizing program schedules and time to host aspiring presidential candidates.

According to Wilfred Senyange, the UBC public relations officer, all presidential candidates have been contacted, requested for their campaign program schedules to cover their campaigns in the different news and live programs from wherever they are campaigning from.

He says that because the law provides for presidential candidate’s entitlement to equal access, coverage and air by the public broadcaster, UBC is ready to fulfill its obligation despite the 2021 general elections being virtual and requiring a lot of media space for various candidates.

He says that after getting the full details of all the 11 presidential candidates, the program schedule will be completed in 14 days and shared with the Electoral Commission and the presidential candidates on time.

The adverts will however be paid for by each presidential candidate at a harmonized rate after discussion with the Electoral Commission.

On November 4, 2020, UBC’s behind the headlines program in pilot hosted presidential candidates Patrick Oboi Amuriat (FDC), Maj. Gen (rtd) Gregg Mugisha Muntu (Alliance for National Transformation) and Independent candidate Nancy Linda Kalembe.

Paul Bukenya, Electoral Commission Manager Media and Public Relations says that the process is on-going per the Presidential Amendment Act. He says the program has to be finalized so that they facilitate candidates duly on time and in line with their programs.

The Presidential Elections (Amendment) Act 2020 calls for equal access to and treatment on state-owned media. It places the obligation on the Electoral Commission to ensure equal treatment of all presidential candidates on state-owned media. It also mandates state-owned media to notify all presidential candidates of available times, broadcast schedules and costs.

In the event of non-compliance, the law creates sanctions for contravention in terms of fines for state-owned media houses and fines and/or imprisonment for persons in charge of state-owned media houses.

During the Supreme Court hearing in the Mbabazi v Museveni case, the court expressed concern that there was unequal coverage of the candidates by UBC. This was considered an electoral offence and court considered that all candidates must be given equal coverage.

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