Uganda journalists take industry regulator to court

Journalists at 13 media companies in Uganda, who were ordered to be suspended by the regulator, will challenge the order in court on Wednesday.

The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) told broadcast companies to take action against dozens of managers, programme heads and producers, over allegations they contravened broadcasting standards in coverage of events involving Bobi Wine, a prominent critic of the government.

The case is being seen as a test of the freedom of the media industry in Uganda. Dozens of journalists have been reassigned temporary duties for a month, but not suspended, pending the outcome of the legal challenge.

During a meeting last week with broadcasters the executive director of the UCC, Godfrey Mutabazi, agreed the journalists could step aside during an investigation into whether the "character of that individual" was "embedded in the content brought on air."

The Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) wants the court to restrain the regulator from directing the immediate suspension of staff.

The UJA also wants an injunction restraining the UCC from seeking recordings of live news bulletins broadcast on the 29th of April.The media clampdown has provoked allegations of censorship of criticism of the government.

It's also reported that media owners accused the regulator of encouraging Ugandans to turn to foreign broadcasters, like the BBC, Al Jazeera or CNN for accurate reporting of events.