The Uganda Communications Commission-UCC has asked court to dismiss the consolidated applications filed against them by Uganda Journalists Association-UJA.
UJA and the lawyers petitioned the Civil Division of the High Court seeking a temporary injunction in the matter they are challenging UCC’s directive to 13 media houses to suspend staff for allegedly breaching minimum broadcasting standards.
The media houses are Akaboozi FM, BBS TV, Beat FM, Bukedde TV, Capital FM, CBS FM, Kingdom TV, NBSTV, NTV, and Pearl FM, Salt TV, Sapientia FM and Simba FM.
The applicants through their lawyers of Mugisha and Company Advocates have since said that the directive is inconsistent and that should court fail to grant an order stopping its implementation, journalists are likely to suffer from permanent harm and other damages.
However, the lawyers of UCC led by Joseph Matsiko from Kampala Associated Advocates have asked court presided by Justice Lydia Mugambe to dismiss the case arguing that it has no merit.
Matsiko said that the matter before court does not require the Judge to exercise her discretion so as to grant a temporary order. He noted that the circumstances of the case are that there is a 30-day investigation into possible breach of minimum broadcasting standards.
Matsiko said that the affidavit of Meddie Ssebagala Kagwa the head of Multi-Media and Content at UCC indicates that what is going on at the moment is just an investigation.
He also submitted Kagwa’s affidavit opposing the application shows that there is continuous dialogue between the broadcasters and the respondents meaning that it would be unwise for court to grant the reliefs sought by the applicants.
UCC’s head of Legal Services Abdul Salaam Waiswa told court that the application was prematurely brought. He noted that the UCC Practice and Regulations procedures state that where there is an investigation started by the Commission, any person affected is supposed to write back to them other than going to Court.
Waiswa noted that the decision was taken for the good of the country and when the court issues an interim injunction, the powers of UCC to regulate the media houses will be reduced.
The case has been adjourned to May 23rd, 2019 for ruling.
Meanwhile, Justice Mugambe has advised lawyer Peter Arinaitwe who was representing UJA on behalf of Eron Kiiza to stop discussing the merits of the case since it is before court.