Although nearly 90% of Ugandans can be reached via radio signals, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has expressed doubt on whether these statistics commiserate with the distribution of voters across the country.
UCC Spokesperson Ibrahim Bossa made these remarks in an interview with ChimpReports on Saturday, June 20, 2020.
His comments were in relation to moves by the Electoral Commission’s revised roadmap to have scientific campaigns as one way of preventing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking today, Bossa disclosed that while the country boasts of about 300 Frequency Modulation (FM) stations, they cannot tell where the vast majority of voters are situated.
“We do not have a picture that maybe thirty percent are in the rural areas, 40% are in the peri-urban or A B C D. That picture we do not have,” he pointed out.
Second to that, he also pointed out that UCC was planning to look into issues of poor connections that have sometimes hindered the broadcasting schedules of different television stations.
“Ninety percent of Uganda’s population is reached by radio signals, we have 39 television stations but you will find that their distribution around the country will also be uneven,” Bossa expressed concern.
“There are areas where signet is still struggling to have a live signal that has to be looked into, that is what is on the ground,” he added.
Whereas they were caught unaware, Bossa disclosed that additional guidelines are being developed having been caught unaware by the move to have scientific campaigns.
“Our framework was not designed for a scientific kind of election… We are developing guidelines in relation with the relevant stakeholders so that we are able to advise the country and the contestants but that is still work in progress,” Bossa disclosed.
Concluding, he vowed to investigate and crack the whip on unbalanced media reporting and coverage of candidates during the course of campaigns.
“The same standards basically say that if the broadcaster is running programmes in respect to a contender of public office, each contender has to be given an equal opportunity on such programming,” Bossa emphasized.
It should be noted that two years ago court awarded Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) strongman Dr. Kizza Besigye damages amounting to 80 million shillings.
This was after it emerged that Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) had not advertised his 2011 Presidential bid despite pocketing twenty-one million shillings.
Asked to comment on these matters, Jotham Taremwa the EC spokesperson said that they are already engaging media owners for purposes of running harmonious and fair campaigns.
“Here we are saying the main medium of engagement with the public is the media. So we want fair play on the part of the media owners,” Taremwa retorted.
This, however, he said, cannot rule out foul play given that in the past campaigns candidates with huge amounts of money have suffocated their erstwhile rivals of air time.
All in all, Taremwa stated that they are willing to take into consideration any suggestion that seeks to improve the implementation of the Revised Electoral Road Map.
According to a 2015 “Uganda Media Landscape Report” by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 87% of Ugandans owned a working radio while 34% of adult Ugandans owned a Television set.
On the other hand, only a paltry 13% of Ugandans were connected to the internet.
Statistics by the EC indicate that 17.7 million Ugandans are expected to take part in the oncoming polls.