Wednesday, June 22, 2011


22nd June 2011 marks 15 years of Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) radio. The radio has grown from strength to strength over the years tempting the NRM administration to be tempted to see its strength and influence reduced, unfortunately, the cultural aspect has prevailed and the radio is strong and influential. Over the years, the presenters of the station have been an innovative lot and this innovation reached great heights in 2009 before the so – called Buganda riots which were induced by the Central Government miss advised move which saw the blocking of the Katikiiro of Buganda from going to Kayunga and eventually the refusal by the authorities that be that the King of Buganda does not travel to Kayunga.
Through the 15 years the going has not been easy. The people of Buganda were shocked to learn that the man who was behind the technical innovations which saw the radio on air (Peter Sematimba) shortly became a liability and it is no surprise that today he has his own station. This move was meant to see to the reduction of the radio strength, but God did not give the move the blessing. As if that was not enough, the same Sematimba came and stood for the Chairmanship of Lubaga Division, and given the division within the Democratic Party ranks, the unexpected happened. The man believed to have the backing from the powers the powers that have always wanted Mengo to be of less influence got into office and before Sematimba left to campaign for Lord Mayor ship he found it easy to tell the electorate how he had delivered for the people of Lubaga. The problem is not delivering or not, but the motive! Having a man who is a Muganda coming to see the people of Buganda turn attention from their King is unfortunate.
The management of CBS Radio is hailed for innovations made which generate money which money helps many other innovations to move including the sponsoring of students as well as a number of other social responsibilities. This is at a time when the central Government has deliberately sat on rent dues accruing from the Buganda Government assets ‘rented’ by the Central Government, a move which is difficult to understand, but which move the Buganda Government has had to bear though a number of people from Buganda vote for the NRM Government leadership. That a part, the Central Government leadership has refused to grant or bless the federal arrangement which is cherished by over 60% of the people of Uganda according to the findings of the Odoki Commission.
It makes sense to celebrate the 15 years less one dead year when the Central Government decided to close the station for a whole year. It is our hope that as the 16th year is started, the Central Government leadership will start seeing CBS Radio as a potential development partner and hence make positive support to the station instead of scheming to see it down.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka


CBS’ Kato Lubwama (L) and Abby Mukiibi during their morning show

By Sheila Naturinda & Tabu Butagira
Posted Saturday, January 23 2010 at 00:00
Saturday Monitor has learnt that a Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe chaired by President Museveni on Thursday night agreed to temporarily allow the radio, taken off air 19 weeks ago, to resume broadcasting - subject to a dozen stiff provisos, among them an explicit apology to the government.

The government has ordered the Central Broadcasting Station radio to immediately relocate from Bulange-Mengo, the seat of Buganda kingdom, and disassociate itself from the Kabaka if it wants to remain in business.
Saturday Monitor has learnt that a Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe chaired by President Museveni on Thursday night agreed to temporarily allow the radio, taken off air 19 weeks ago, to resume broadcasting - subject to a dozen stiff provisos, among them an explicit apology to the government.
Sources that attended the 9-hour meeting but whom we cannot name because Cabinet discussions are confidential, told this newspaper that a consensus was reached to permanently withdraw the station’s licence if the mangers do not toe the line preferred by the central government.

Managers unaware
Among the 12 conditions, which CBS Managing Director Kaaya Kavuma yesterday said they are yet to formally receive from the government, is a requirement for the radio managers to sack all employees accused of inciting the September 10-12 riots in and around Kampala.
At least 27 people were allegedly shot dead by state security operatives as they violently quelled the civil unrest, ignited by a government refusal to allow the Kabaka hold a royal function in Kayunga District where a section of the minority Banyala are seeking a break away from Buganda.
President Museveni blamed the bloody events of the time that has heavily strained relations between Buganda kingdom and his ruling NRM government on tribalised incitement by CBS radio in which Mengo owns majority shares.
It has also emerged that Thursday’s State House meeting settled that disaffected CBS staff who sued the government over closure of the radio immediately abandon litigation or the government will freeze dialogue with the broadcaster and let the courts decide.
CBS was also asked to re-apply for a new broadcasting licence after the initial one was revoked during the station’s shutdown some four months ago. “[CBS management] must ensure that all those people consistently breaching the broadcasting standards should not appear on air again. The station’s management should be immediately changed; employees who incited riots be nowhere in the employment list,” a minister told this newspaper, reading from resolutions of the night meeting.
It is these set of conditions that the government says CBS has ignored – provisos the radio managers deny knowledge of – that President Museveni reportedly seized on at Thursday’s meeting to indict CBS on its current predicament.

Blame game
“CBS management is responsible for the delays in re-opening of the station,” Mr Museveni is quoted to have told his ministers. Yesterday, Mr Kaaya, the radio MD who is also a shareholder, said he was surprised to learn of the decision from the media because “we have never once before been informed of the conditions”. “Until we have got those conditions officially, I cannot comment and when we get them, I will sit with the Board [of Directors] and we decide on what to do accordingly,” he said.
Saturday Monitor has learnt that CBS management met with President Museveni on Friday last week and held follow up discussions with Information, Communication and Technology Minister Aggrey Awori shortly before Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, arguing a case for reinstatement of the station’s operations.

Mr Awori, whose ministry oversees the communications sector, including broadcasters, heads an ad hoc Cabinet committee formed purposely to handle the CBS closure, a thorny issue for the government on an election eve.
Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko who sits on Awori’s committee, told Saturday Monitor yesterday that: “As a government, we are willing to forget and forgive if the CBS management is cooperative.” It has emerged that another team of ministers, only those with legal qualifications, has been tasked to re-package the expanded pre-conditions to keep CBS in check and Mr Awori, as the line minister, will chair this committee.

The High Court in Kampala has dismissed a counter suit filed by the Ugandan government against the Central Broadcasting Station (CBS), which was shut down in September 2009 on allegations of inciting violence.
On September 10 2009, the Broadcasting Council shut down and revoked the licence of CBS for allegedly using it to “mobilise and incite the public and sowing seeds of hatred among Ugandans” leading to the death of more than 27 people during the riots that followed a standoff between the central government and the seat of the Buganda kingdom. CBS is owned by the Buganda Kingdom.
Over 100 CBS employees later filed a lawsuit asking court to declare the revocation of radio station’s licence “unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, null, and void”. The employees also sought about Shs 3 billion in compensation, arguing that the “unjustifiable” closure had rendered them jobless.

However in February 2010, the government also filed a counter suit seeking to compel CBS to pay aggravated damages for allegedly mobilising and inciting the public into violence and rebelling against lawful authority.
On August 20, High Court Judge Vincent Zehurikize dismissed the government’s suit with no costs to CBS. He said that authority to take disciplinary action against any media house lies with the Media Council and not the government.
The judge ruled, “The fact that the government received complaints from the general public and security agencies does not give it a right to sue on behalf of the citizens but it can institute criminal proceedings against those who breached the law as a way to protect the citizens.”
The ruling paves way for the continuation of the case in which the CBS employees want the government to reopen the radio station and also pay them Shs 3billion in compensation in lost earnings.
Mr Frederick Ssempebwa, the lawyer representing CBS employees, told the media outside court that “government has powers to license for example, but those powers don’t include bringing a case for compensation against CBS.”
Mr Ssempebwa added that the suit filed by the CBS employees will resume in October this year. “The employees still have their case for compensation; that one we shall argue,” he said.
CBS radio was one of the four stations that were shut down in September 2009 after the dramatic standoff between the central government and the Buganda Kingdom.
The other three stations, Suubi FM, Radio Sapienta, Radio Two (Akaboozi Kubiri), were later opened with stern warnings after they apologised for the misconduct of their employees. They were also forced to dismiss some presenters and journalists that the government complained against.
Critics and human rights defenders accused the Broadcasting Council of acting on the orders of a government that was besieged and condemned the decision to shut down the radio stations as a gross infringement on freedom of expression.
The closure of the four radio stations is reported to have had a chilling effect on journalists from other media houses, who were reported to be exercising undue self-censorship. Others claimed receiving orders from their managers or radio station owners not to focus on the Buganda kingdom and other controversial political stories.
In January a Cabinet sub-committee formed to address the CBS closure came up with 12 conditions for reopening the radio station. CBS management was required to apologise to the government “through the Broadcasting Council”, relocate its studio from the Kabaka’s palace (Bulange), withdraw the court case brought by employees against the government, dismiss journalists and presenters who allegedly participated in inciting the September riots, and follow the minimum broadcasting standards.

Monday, 1st February, 2010

By Josephine Maseruka
Buganda’s attorney general Apolo Makubuya wants the Uganda Broadcasting Council to accord CBS radio a public hearing that will determine whether its owners should apologise or not. He also dismissed the Government’s other conditions for re-opening the radio station.
CBS was shut down last September following riots in parts of Buganda. President Yoweri Museveni, in a meeting with Buganda MPs at the time, accused CBS of inciting the public, promoting sectarianism, “at one time talking of people with long noses” and telling lies about the land bill.
The Cabinet last week recommended that CBS management should apologise, relocate its studios from Bulange, withdraw pending court cases against the Government and follow the broadcasting standards before it can re-open.
Museveni, while touring Mpigi district, repeated the Cabinet decision that the proprietors of CBS apologise for inciting violence that led to the death of over 20 people and left a lot of property destroyed.
But in a strongly worded statement yesterday, Makubuya said the Government’s demands were “premature and ironical.”
“In the case of CBS, several of whose personnel await trial and whose cases against the Government are pending, the demand for an immediate apology is premature and ironical.”
He wondered why army generals and the Cabinet were at the forefront of the CBS negotiations and not the broadcasting council.
“General Tinyefuza’s missive to Gen. Salim Saleh of January 12 and Gen. Museveni’s demands for the owners of CBS to apologise for the September 2009 riots as a precondition to reopen CBS radio must be puzzling and disturbing to many,” the attorney general stated.
“Why are army generals not so keen on the trial of the trigger-happy security personnel that killed 27 Ugandans during the riots?” he asked.
“Will an apology by CBS proprietors alone atone the victims and answer the accusations made against it? And why are the generals very keen for CBS to withdraw the court case against the Government as a precondition for its licence to be restored?”
He added that the Government itself owes the country several apologies, “including for the breach of the Constitution; the wanton loss of innocent lives; the wrongful arrest and detention of many innocent individuals and denying them a right to bail; the illegal closure of CBS and other radio stations and the clamp-down on critical voices in the media and elsewhere.”
He also alleged that the broadcasting council has not been allowed to independently deal with the matter due to external interference.
He was optimistic that if an independent and impartial inquiry is set up, CBS would be exonerated and some people would be required to apologise for undermining the Constitution and the rule of law.
“Since the Buganda kingdom respects the rule of law, abhors impunity and cherishes peace, if such inquiry found CBS or its agents responsible for any breaches, then the army generals and others will well be within their rights to demand an apology,” Makubuya said.
He said the conditionality to CBS is largely lifted from Gen. Tinyefuza’s ideas and demonstrates the Government’s “unfriendly intentions” towards Buganda.

Friday, 22nd January, 2010
By Felix Osike and Raymond Baguma
THE government has set tough conditions for the re-opening of Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) radio, including moving out of Bulange, the seat for the Mengo government.
The licence of the Buganda kingdomowned radio station was revoked for allegedly inciting violence.
After a heated meeting at State House, Entebbe that lasted from 8:00pm on Thursday to 3:30am on Friday, the Cabinet resolved that the radio management must apologise for inciting violence and civil unrest.
CBS was shut down by the Broadcasting Council, following violent riots in Buganda on September 11, in which over 27 people died, while scores were injured, with property destroyed.
This was after the Government blocked Buganda’s traditional leader, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, from visiting Kayunga for the Buganda youth day celebrations.
Sources said the meeting, chaired by President Yoweri Museveni, considered a report by a Cabinet committee, which looked into CBS affairs and adopted its recommendations.
An 11-member Cabinet sub-committee, headed by ICT minister Aggrey Awori, sought opinions within Buganda, on the closure and reopening of the station. Other committee members were ministers Namirembe Bitamazire, Rukia Chekamondo, Sulaiman Madada, Kabakumba Masiko and Khidu Makubuya.
Another condition is that CBS employees must drop all the pending court proceedings against the Government.
A group of the radio station’s workers have sued the Government over the closure.
Through their lawyers Katende, Ssempebwa & Co. Advocates, the workers say they were rendered jobless by closing the station. They also argue that since the closure, the station has recorded financial losses and is seeking compensation.
In addition, the Cabinet resolved that CBS must meet the minimum broadcasting standards set out in the Electronic Media Statute 1996.
According to the Broadcasting Council, CBS and other three radio stations (Akaboozi ku Bbiri, Radio Sapientia and Suubi FM) violated the minimum standards, which bar them from broadcasting programmes
that promote the culture of violence or ethnical prejudice among the public.
According to the statute, the programmes must also be free from distortion of facts, not create public insecurity or violence and must be balanced to ensure “They have to meet the conditions in the electronic media statute before they are licensed again,” said a source.
Besides, the Cabinet also resolved that CBS must move its studios away from Bulange. “They must de-link themselves from the kingdom if they want to operate smoothly,” added another source.
After the stormy meeting, a sub-committee, chaired by Awori was formed to work out the final cabinet position, which will be communicated to CBS management. Attorney General Khiddu Makubuya and local government minister Adolf Mwesige are other members of the sub-committee.
Sources added that a few ministers wanted CBS re-opened immediately, fearing that the continued closure would make the ruling party unpopular in Buganda. But the majority view, according to the sources, said they must meet the conditions first.

Ismail Musa Ladu and Sheila Naturinda
20 September 2009
One of the biggest victims of last week's riots in Buganda is free speech. The government ordered the closure of four radio stations and suspended at least five journalists and a presenter. Inside Politics' Ismail Musa Ladu and Sheila Naturinda face-off the chairman of the Uganda Broadcasting Council, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi and Dr Peter G. Mwesige a journalist and media scholar over the developments.

The government closed four radio stations- accusing them of inciting violence and spreading a hate campaign. What's your take?
Mutabazi: That was absolutely in order. The government took the decision to close because at that time two people were already dead. How many more should we have waited to die before coming in yet it was clear that what was coming from these radios were not helping matters.
Mwesige: The government's action - and here I guess the Broadcasting Council and government are one and the same - was excessive. We have laws, draconian ones I must add, that the government could have invoked to bring "offending" radio presenters to order. They did not have to close the radio stations. Kalundi Serumaga was arrested allegedly for utterances he made on WBS but the station was not closed. And here I am not condoning Kalundi's arrest, which was equally unwarranted, but pointing out the contradictions in the government's stance towards the media. I must add, however, that journalists and media owners should also recognise that there is a section of the public that supports the government's decision to close the radio stations because they felt they had overstepped their mandate and were in fact promoting ethnic hatred and inciting violence.
They should recognise the legitimate fears out there that if they don't exercise their power with responsibility, there is a real danger that they could indeed incite violence and ethnic hatred. We are often reminded about what happened in Rwanda where Radio Mille Collines used hate speech to add fire to the fuel of genocide. But we must also recognise that African governments, including ours, have exploited these fears to muzzle legitimate expression and press freedom. We should distinguish between hate speech, which should be condemned, and dissent and criticism, which are legitimate.

Was the closure of radio stations the answer to the violent demonstrations?
Mutabazi: Absolutely. They were. These radios were mobilising people against the authority. The police had issued clear instructions about the whole thing but these radios were opposing that - the authority of the police.
Mwesige: The riots provided the trigger for the closure of the radio stations, but this is something we had seen coming. The President had been warning radio stations and other media houses. In April 2007, I attended a meeting where the President accused radio station owners of "irresponsibility and irrationality" by allowing their media houses to be used by what he called saboteurs - his description of the political opposition. He blamed the media and saboteurs for the deaths in the Mabira demonstration and reminded the owners that their stations had been "licensed to inform, educate and entertain, not to "annoy, insult, misinform and sabotage". At the same meeting, the President revealed that he had instructed his security agencies to monitor programming on all radio stations and bring to his attention those that break the law. Now, I have always been a big advocate of quality in the media. The media indeed have the responsibility to be accurate and fair but the government is wrong to criminalise their failures in that direction.

Human rights organisations have condemned the closure of these radio stations, saying it's an abuse of freedom of expression. Is there a limit to freedom?
Mutabazi: Definitely there are limits to freedom of expression. What is more important than the right to live? So I don't agree that freedom of expression is more important than the right to live so we have a duty to protect that.
Mwesige: Article 29 of the Constitution provides that every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media. Article 43 of the Constitution provides for circumstances under which this freedom and other freedoms in our Bill of Rights could be limited. It says in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms prescribed in our Bill of Rights, no person shall prejudice the fundamental or other human rights and freedoms of others or the public interest. But that same article also provides that the limitations on fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, must be acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. In my view, legislation against hate speech, for instance, would probably be a justifiable limitation in a free and democratic society, but laws that tantamount to saying you can't abuse or annoy the President would not pass the constitutional bar that our Supreme Court has set. That is why I am hoping that the Supreme Court will soon strike down the law of sedition, under which Serumaga was charged.
Serumaga accused the President of poor upbringing and blamed this for Uganda's current crisis. Now, it may be bad manners for Serumaga to use the language he used, but surely that is protected speech. Similarly, the President may have a point about radio stations being used to incite violence and ethnic hatred, but he loses my sympathy when he justifies their closure on the additional grounds that the stations were abusing him and the NRM. I think as Uganda's chief "abuser", the President should recognise that this comes with the territory. It is obviously distasteful when we allow our politics and public dialogue to be characterised by abuses and insults, but we face a greater danger when we criminalise expression simply on account of it being annoying or uncomfortable.
The government has accused some radio talk show presenters of deviating from the principles of journalism. Shall we see government coming up with strict regulations on the presenters?
Mutabazi: There are already laws regulating presenters. However, we don't believe in censorship but a good job.
Mwesige: You bet. As we approach the 2011 elections, we are going to see more moves by the government to rein in the media. I think talk show hosts and radio presenters as well as journalists have a responsibility to conduct research, to correct distortions on the airwaves, to be fair and all that. But I don't agree that they should be sent to jail for violating these standards which many of us hold dearly.
Is the rapid increase of FM radio stations to over 40 in the last 10 years a sign of development or disaster?
Mutabazi: It is a sign of development and our policy is to spread it across the country. The only problem is the misuse of this platform. Most of the producers and DJs or presenters are not qualified and this is something we want to sort out so that we have qualified and objective people.
Mwesige: As long as the spectrum is regulated and listeners can get clear signals from whatever station they choose to listen to, I don't see any disaster here. But I must add that the proliferation of radio stations has not necessarily improved the quality of information out there.

What should the government do to help the media in Uganda maintain ethical standards?
Mutabazi: Not all qualified journalists are angels. For example, the performance of WBS talk show host and the one of Mr Sserumaga was uncalled for.Mr Kibazo should have taken charge of the programme; this is not like the print media where somebody has a choice to buy the copy or not.
Mwesige: The government should support the creation of more credible and independent regulatory bodies that can conduct research on media performance and practice and use civic mechanisms to hold those who violate ethical standards accountable. It is disturbing that the Broadcasting Council is known for either denying licences to radio stations or closing them. It is not known for providing meaningful media monitoring information that civil society and the media could use to hold journalists accountable.
Instead of investing in such activities, the President is busy giving public resources to security organisations that are now charged with the extra responsibility of media monitoring. I hear the Uganda Police even has a media crimes desk!
The government should also ensure that all its departments facilitate fast citizen access to information. It should tear down the walls of secrecy and the culture of silence around many official operations.
Even the qualified journalists have fallen prey to the law. Is this an issue of qualifications or intimidation?
Mutabazi: We intend to interact more with the media and organize several workshops and seminars to sensitize the media. We also need to ensure and enforce the minimum qualification of people in the media.
Mwesige: It is very difficult to operate in an environment where one man decides what is acceptable speech and what is not. I mean I can understand, even as I disagree, the government's decision to charge journalists under our draconian laws. At least we know those laws and we should continue the struggle to have them repealed or amended. But what about recent moves by the government to arrogate itself the right to decide who can host a talk show on Radio One or WBS? Under what law are these people operating?

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