Luweero Megaphone Broadcasters Defy UCC, Resume Operations

2486 Views Luweero, Uganda

In short
Uganda Communications Commission had closed down several of them, stating that such mediums are a public nuisance and an infringement in the rights of citizens to peace and quietness in the areas where they operate from.

Outdoor megaphone broadcasters in Luweero district have defied a directive by Uganda Communications Commission to cease operations.

The megaphones which are usually erected on trees or poles are used to broadcast messages in localized areas. They operate like community radio stations running announcements, adverts, talk shows, preaching and music shows, among others.

Uganda Communications Commission had closed down several of them, stating that such mediums are a public nuisance and an infringement in the rights of citizens to peace and quietness in the areas where they operate from. The directive was the basis of recent operations in which several of the megaphone broadcasters were closed down and their equipment confiscated.

The commission explained that the platforms were working in contravention with section 26 (1) of Uganda Communications Commission act 2013 which prohibits persons to install or operate radio, television or broadcasting apparatus without license from the body. However two weeks later, the 'radios' are back on air.

Some of the 'radios' which have been switched on include; Radio Kalaso, Radio Paradise, Voice of Kasana and Radio Wobulenzi among others.

William Mukiibi, the owner of Voice of Kasana says that they are back on air to address communication gaps within their communities. Mukiibi explains that the residents were experiencing hardship in accessing information and sending messages to the people in case of emergencies without any local FM Radio. He however accuses UCC officials of turning a deaf to the quest for open dialogue.
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Ronald Luyinda, the director of Kalaso Radio in Luweero town explains that UCC rushed to close the radio's without consulting the communities and the operators. Luyinda says that they have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to order UCC to suspend operations until they meet them and commit to leave them operational.
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Ishak Mugema, a resident in Wobulenzi town council says the megaphone radios are instant, accessible and cheaper compared to FM Radios located far away in Kampala. He asked UCC to regulate content on the platforms instead of banning them.

Edward Kyaligonza the Savannah Regional Police Commander says that the megaphones will be left to operate until UCC seeks for police help in enforcement of the law.

But Isaac Kalembe, the Spokesperson of Uganda Communication Commission says that UCC is considering taking stringent measures against those who have resumed operations. Kalembe warns that 'radios;' which defy the closure, risk a fine of 30 million Shillings as stipulated in the Uganda Communications Commission act 2013.

He said the commission has so far closed down more than 150 megaphone broadcasters.

In 2012 UCC closed all megaphone broadcasters in Luweero and confiscated their equipment but they were reopened after the then district Chairperson Abdul Nadduli contested the operation. He argued that the electronic media act is not binding to them because they have no frequencies and their area of operations is too small.

The megaphone broadcasters charge between 2000-10,000 Shillings per advert.


About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.