High Court Civil Division has upheld Uganda Communications Commission’s (UCC) directive to suspend all public live radio broadcast programs popularly known as “Bimeeza” for breach of broadcasting standards.
The popular ‘Bimeeza’ programs included Spectrum on Radio One, Mambo Bado on CBS and Simba awo akati awo which used to air on Radio Simba every Sunday.
Protesting this, Bukenya Church Ambrose, one of the prominent debaters on the said ‘Bimeeza’, filed an application through his lawyer Ladslaus Rwakafuuzi accusing Government and UCC of violating people’s freedom of Speech and Expression as enshrined in the constitution.
Bukenya asked court to declare the said ban illegal because the programme was a public participatory programme where members exchanged views on various topics freely in observance of rules and regulations.
However, while upholding the ban, Justice Musa Ssekaana noted that on several occasions, the operators of various Radio stations were given an opportunity by UCC to legalize their outside broadcast programs through numerous letters but failed to comply.
The judge pointed out that operating in areas other than those in which Radio stations were licensed to operate from was illegal and unlawful.
“The letter dated 21st December 2002, written to the General Manager Simba FM and Radio One from the broadcasting council stated thus, ‘Bimeeza’ programme is therefore in direct contravention of the above section, since it is broadcast from the area for which your radio station was not licensed,” Ssekaana highlighted.
He further noted that some rights like freedom of expression are not absolute but have to be observed in accordance with the law.
This matter was filed in 2010 but it has been delayed in court due to a number of factors including the Constitutional court appeal before supreme court about Fundamental Rights and Freedom which was later determined in 2017.