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UCC backtracks on radio frequency for Parliament

UCC’s Mutabazi 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament will not have absolute control of the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) Red Channel 98.0 FM, as it will only convey its programs through UBC, URN has learnt.

According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Parliament will be producing programs, and UBC will host the programs through its red channel which will be an exclusive channel for Parliament.

Early this month, Parliament communicated to members that Parliament had finally acquired a frequency to run its own radio.

UCC had given Parliament a frequency of the national broadcaster, 98.0 FM to communicate the business of the house and was expected to cover several parts of the country.

However, this changed as Uganda Communications Communication (UCC) which is the regulator say the frequency cannot be given out to Parliament, but a partnership will be established. The 98.0 FM frequency has been hosting UBC RED channel, which covers Kampala and the Central Region.

Now URN has established that Parliament will only be generating the content that will be hosted on the UBC red channel.

According to the UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi, Parliament has previously been running its programs through UBC, and they see no reason why this should not continue.

Mutabazi says Parliament can still work with their studio, but they will have to send their content to UBC to broadcast Parliament programs.

He says it’s a technical issue where the 98.0 frequency cannot be fragmented from the UBC system which was originally designed to work together and not having it operate independently.

Asked about the independence of Parliament Radio, Mutabazi says Parliament content will not be interrupted and there is no need to worry about independence of the radio.

UCC’s Director Cooperate Affairs Fred Otunnu says initially the frequency was identified, and there was a process to give the frequency to Parliament, but UBC made a case about the nature of that frequency and how it cannot be given out. He says based technical challenges, Parliament cannot run the radio independently.

Winston Agaba, the Managing Director UBC says that they hope that they can co-host the radio with Parliament. He says discussions are still ongoing with parliament and UCC, and hopefully they will come to a conclusion. Asked if the arrangement will be through a Studio to transmitter link (STL) from Parliament to a UBC link, Agaba says all these things are yet to be discussed.

“Parliament will bring the content as and when they have it and UBC runs it. That’s what we are looking at as ideal, as you know some times Parliament is in recess, so what will be happen in that kind of period.” Agaba questioned.

Both UCC, and UBC could not say if Parliament will have to pay for using UBC’s frequency and Parliament’s content running on UBC or not.

When contacted, the Deputy Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Hellen Kaweesa told URN that she does not know at what stage it had reached.

She promised to get back to URN when she has information.

A source within Parliament’s communication department who is not allowed to speak to the press said he does not think that arrangement will work since Parliaments idea was to have its own radio.   Parliament’s proposed radio was meant to operate within the precincts of parliament, where the transmitter is stationed.

According to sources in Parliament, although they wanted a 3 Kilowatt transmitter, UCC restricted the power to 1 kilowatt. UCC argued that the FM band in central region is congested.



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