23 Radio Stations Shut Down in Uganda for “Promoting Witchcraft”

Directeur exécutif de l'UCC lors de l'exposition ACIA en 2017.Credit: UCC Website

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) is saddened by the decision of Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) to shut down 23 radio stations for failing to meet the Commission’s broadcast standards.

The UCC on March 27, 2018, revoked licenses of the radio stations for allegedly promoting witchcraft.

According to the Commission’s spokesperson, Pamela Ankunda, the decision to shut down the stations was taken after the media houses ignored continuous warnings by the UCC against promoting and advertising witchcraft content.

The decision is in line with Article 41 (1 a &b) of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013, which mandates the Commission to suspend and revoke operating license of media houses on the grounds of serious and repeated breach of the license conditions.

The affected radio stations are: Metro FM, Nile FM, Kagadi Broadcasting Services, Emambya FM, Village Club FM, Radio Kitara, Packwach FM and Tropical FM.

The remaining stations are Apex FM, Bamboo FM, Ssebo FM, Eastern Voice FM, Eye FM, Victoria FM, RFM, Kiira FM, Tiger FM, Greater African Radio, Dana FM, Gold FM, Hits FM and Radio 5.

Last month on February 2, 2018, the UCC summoned radio stations including, Apex FM, Dembe FM, Star FM, Metro FM among others over what is said to have been a repeated breach of minimum broadcasting standards. The radio stations were accused of carrying misleading promotions on their airwaves.

As much as AFEX supports initiatives to improve professionalism in the media; we believe that a shutdown is an extreme measure. Radio is the primary source of information among several households in Uganda. Closure of these stations will therefore mean depriving thousands of Ugandans their right to access information.

We call on the UCC to reopen the radio stations to allow them serve their communities. AFEX also call on the management of the affected stations and the regulator to collaborate to improve professional standards in the media.