Co-regulation takes centre stage at consultative meet.

CO-REGULATION TAKES CENTRE STAGE AT CONSULTATIVE MEET

By Hillary Turyasingura

The need for a co-regulation of the media has dominated the consultative engagement on reforms of select media laws and practice in Uganda.

The consultative engagement organised by the Ministry of Information, Communications Technology and National Guidance, in conjunction with the Media Council of Uganda, was held on Thursday 28th November 2019 at Mestil Hotel in Kampala.

Journalists, members of the Media Council, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, representatives from the United Nations Development Programme, the academia and other stakeholders attended the one-day meeting.

Professor Monicah Chibita, dean of the Faculty of Journalism and Communication at Uganda Christian University, who gave the Keynote Speech, stressed that amidst individualisation, freedom of speech and of expression as well as media freedom must be exercised rightly. She, therefore, called for the need to regulate the media in order for the public interest to be known without violating the rights of citizens.

Participants observed that the media in Uganda had not reached a level of self-regulation. They highlighted that there was need for all stakeholders to join efforts and make laws which will address the tremendous change from traditional to new media.

The Commissioner for Information Dissemination and Communication in the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Moses Watasa observed that the media was doing a great job in the country. However, he noted that everyone had become a journalist, heralding the need for statutory regulation.

This, he said, was a result of new technologies in the media space and many mistakes which called for co-regulation of the media. He explained that in some professions such as Medicine and Law self-regulation is made a necessity by the nature of what they do.

Annet Mpabulungi Wakabi, UNDP’s team leader on the Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy Programme

The need for co-regulation was supported by the Media Council Chairperson, Paul Ekochu who was among the key speakers of the day. Panellists Dr Emily Maractho, a lecturer at Uganda Christian University, Peter Okello Jabweli, a member of the Media Council, and Giles Muhame, managing director of an online news site Chimpreports, among others, all called for co-regulation.

Annet Mpabulungi Wakabi, UNDP’s team leader on the Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy Programme, represented the UNDP Resident Representative in Uganda, Elsie Attafuah. She also supported the co-regulation idea, noting that Uganda had over 18 million internet subscribers, with 14 million subscribers on mobile telephony. She said they could not be ignored.

The new Secretary to the Media Council who doubles as a Principal Information Officer in the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Kyetume Kasanga reminded participants that Government was committed to providing free access to public information. For that matter, he noted, Parliament had enacted the Access to Information Act as the enabling law.

Media Council Uganda Press Tag Symbology

As you are aware, Government recognises the media as rendering an essential service of informing, sensitising and educating the public on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Media Council of Uganda yesterday started issuing press tags to journalists whose editors sent in their particulars as earlier requested. The tag is to be used for identification purposes during coverage of COVID-19 in the field. However, it is not required during the joint daily security briefings at the Uganda Media Centre. Attached is the sample tag with its features explained.

 

This is to request the print and digital media to carry it on their platforms and TV stations to display it to the public. You are also requested to forward it to your other platforms, including WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. The purpose is to guard against forgery of the press tag and to minimise interruptions of journalists by security personnel.

For any enquiry or clarification, please, call Mr Paulo Ekochu, Chairman of the Media Council of Uganda on 0772 711711 or 0700711711 E-mail: paule@gplawug.com or the Secretary to the Media Council, Mr Kyetume Kasanga on 0772 516456 E-Mail: kasanga.kyetume@ict.go.ug and dkkasanga10@gmailcom.

 

Media Council on film Classification to promote the Industry

The Media Council continues to regulate the content of the film industry by setting up a film Classification Secretariat in Communication house 3rd Floor Colville Street in Kampala.
The Council worked with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) after it entered into a partnership to jointly regulate the film industry in the country.

The two institutions both have functions related to managing the film industry but have previously worked independent of each other. However, a memorandum of understanding for one year 2013 -2014 was signed to provide for the shared responsibility and resources to help streamline and develop the film and video industry in the country.

UCC provided office space on its premises on Communication House to accommodate the staff of Media Council responsible for film classification. The staff is expected to classify and censor films and videos to establish their appropriateness for audience viewing before they are showed to the public.

This move is intended to help promote development of the film industry and also protect the public from viewing undesirable content shown in places such as cinema and video halls scattered across the country.

Media Council, through the Press and Journalist Act CAP 105 is mandated to censor films, videotapes, plays and other related materials meant for public consumption.

Meanwhile the Uganda Communications Act 2013 allows UCC to license cinematography theatre, video and film libraries.

Minister of Information and National Guidance urges for improved media management and a..

The power of the media and the advanced technological changes in the media industry call for better management and balanced freedoms.

This was highlighted by the Minister of Information and National Guidance Hon. Gen. Jim Muhwezi while meeting the Media Council members at his office in March 2016.
“The Media has greatly changed. Much as it plays a significant role as regards contributing to the direction of the country and the world at large,” the Minister pointed out;  “ these changes where social media has gone viral, publication online are more than print newspapers, the media capability can be used well or used badly” he said.

The Minister urged the Media Council to look at the urgent need to manage the industry, and its capability not to be abused and the need to balance freedoms of media and as well as the public for the stability of the country to be maintained.

During the deliberations it was noted that the post elections of 2016 review of the Media  brought out the role of the media as important but the Media Council has to play its responsibility as a Council not to have media be divisive while at the same time not to undermine the freedoms as per the Ugandan laws.

Hon. Jim Muhwezi  said the Ministry is  looking into reviewing the media laws in order to empower the regulatory body and make an authority strong enough to improve training of journalists, improved support of media houses and media practitioners to engage the public in development.

The Meeting noted the urgency to address the professional conduct of journalists especially regarding their qualifications and the need to plan for mandatory refresher courses for the Media just like other professional bodies like lawyers undertake periodically.

The Chairperson of the Media Council Mr. Paulo Ekochu noted that while the Council was majorly setup as a complaint based, efforts are being made to make it proactive. He welcomed the review of the media laws to empower the regulatory body and improving the support of Media houses and practitioners to carry out their role more professionally.
Members of the course agreed on a continuous engagement of the Media with increased sensitization about media laws. They emphasized that media practitioners need to be made more aware about the implications of their actions, how to apply their rights and how not to infringe on other people’s rights.

The Meeting agreed to focus on Media as a strong player in sustaining development of the country with provision of timely, accurate and correct information within the advancing information technology;  a strong pillar in building the image and marketing  of Uganda.

The Media Council is currently comprised of Mr Paul Ekochu Chairperson, Dr Katebalirwe Amooti Wa Irumba, Mr. Michael Kawooya Mwebe, Ms Linda Nabusayi Wamboga, Mr Peter Okello Jabweri, Mrs Assumpta Kemigisha Sebunya, Mr Venis Omona, Members and Mr. Pius Mwinganisa Secretary.

The Role of Media in Uganda Vision 2040 boosted with improved capacity

The role of the media to contribute effectively to development transformation under Uganda Vision 2040 has been boosted with training of journalists  on evidence based reporting, development communication, conflict sensitive reporting with a focus on marginalized groups.

This training of journalists and editors to train fellow media practitioners has been started off by Media Council to contribute to quality of Media content in Uganda, started off on 2nd November at Source of the Nile Hotel Jinja.

The main objective of this program is to;

  • Equip skills to 25 selected Ugandan Journalists and Editors on evidence based reporting, conflict sensitive journalism, development reporting with focus on rule of law, constitutional democracy and human rights as an initial phase for further training across the country in a bid to improve media content.
  • Facilitate trains with hands on training using exercises and appropriate media report samples to help participants analyze and obtain lessons learnt and good reporting.

Media Council working with expert consultants has deployed several approaches and methodologies:

  • The training is based on participatory approach and adult learning techniques. This seeks for full participation of the trainees. Given the Subject matter and methods of the training, the Consultants utilize various   tools for the research;
  • The training is guided by the Consultant’s  training with modules on evidence based reporting,, conflict sensitive journalism and development reporting with focus on rule of law, constitutional democracy and human rights

Other varied training methods incorporated are illustrated through talk, Group Discussion, Group Work, Brainstorming, Lecture, Role-play, Game Simulation, Project Work and Individual/ group Assignments.

Joan Mugenzi one of the lead consultants takes Journalists and Edotors through practical sessions in Jinja at Source of the Nile Hotel

Under a partnership of Government and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Media Council as an implementing party targets to improve quality of media content and effective public voice and participation in democratic processes and building of a just society.

After carrying out a survey of close to 700 journalists that participated in the Post Elections Media Dialogue early April – June 2016 across the country,  25 journalists and editors were selected and are now being trained to train fellow journalists and editors across the regions of Uganda.

A spotlight on quality of Ugandan media and public voice through training

Training of Trainers of Journalists in Jinja embarked on by Media Council

Media Council has embarked on training trainers of Journalists as a way to raise quality of Media content in Uganda, started off on 2nd November at Source of the Nile Hotel Jinja.

Under a partnership of Government and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Council as an implementing party targets to improve quality of media content and effective public voice and participation in democratic processes and the building of a just society.

After carrying out a survey of close to 700 journalists that participated in the Post Elections Media Dialogue early April – June 2016 across the country,  25 journalists and editors were selected and are now being trained to train fellow journalists and editors across the regions of Uganda.

The target by the end of December 2016 is 80 journalists trained in Busoga and Mt. Elgon regions as the initial step to demonstrate the acquired skills in training of other journalists with supervision of experts and Media Council. The trainings sessions are planned to be extended to other regions in future.

Journalists and Editors from Various regions of Uganda trained to be trainers in Jinja with UNDP support

Uganda’s Vision 2040 emphasizes good governance and institutional robustness as the backbone of transformation. This transformation takes note that it is equally important to ensure that quality of media content within the conventional and social media strategically support shaping attitudes and behaviors to:
(a) Foster social engagement for effective and sustainable culture of constitutional democracy,
(b) Empower communities alongside protection of human rights and effective implementation of relevant laws through amplified public voice and
(c)The media also plays a role that ensures affirmative action for women, youth and marginalized groups especially for conflict sensitive reporting.

Under Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy programme, the Government of Uganda and UNDP aim to build capacity under, Rule of Law, separation of Powers and constitutional democracy to be entrenched in Uganda and all individuals are treated equally under the law and have equitable access to justice by 2020.

Training of journalists for Northern Uganda on evidence based reporting, conflict sensitive journalism, development reporting

Media Council of Uganda with support from UNDP organised a training that attracted 33 Journalists from northern Uganda, 27 male and 6 female out of the targeted 40 participants from 8 Districts of Lira, Gulu, Moroto, Kitgum, Sororti, Kotido,Abim, and Dokolo. It is conducted under the UNDP and Government of Uganda Programme; Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy (RLCD).

The Chairperson Uganda Media Council Mr. Paulo Ekochu; represented by Council Member Mr. Venis Omona opened the training. He said this was an intervention to improve quality of media content in Uganda after conducting an assessment in 2016 during the 9 regional media dialogue sessions with close to 700 media practitioners. Mr Omona said journalists play a critical role of the voice of the voiceless, overseers of accountability to the citizens, and bridge of development are called upon to be professional and this is what the Media Council of Uganda is targeting.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and National Guidance, Mr. Vincent Bagire was represented by the Principal Information Officer and Secretary to Media Council Pius Mwinganisa. He highlighted the streamlining of the media regulatory agencies under one ministry as a way to strengthen the Media. He said Uganda Vision 2040 which feeds into Second National Development Plan (NDP II) emphasises the central role of the media in supporting the country’s socio-economic transformation and institutional strength. He noted that quality of media content is faced with the test of new media often called social media; its effects on traditional media continues to increasing and therefore journalists have to be more vigilant in professional practice with facts, balanced reporting and constant improvement in the use of new technologies.

UNDP Country Director Ms. Almaz Gebru recognized the vital role of the media keeping communities informed, educated and well-informed people ensure deepening democracy, participation of citizens and transparency by those holding public offices. In her speech presented by Ms Florence Ochola, she accentuated UN/UNDP’s commitment to work with and support the media as an essential communication tool to enable positive mindset of societies. She implored the media to minimize on sensational or sleaze reporting and deliberately shape the development agenda of Uganda. She pointed out key aspects as: fostering social engagement, sustaining a culture of constitutional democracy and rule of law; enable access to public information; empower the public to demand and meet their obligations; messaging that fosters protection of human rights, conflict sensitive situations but also nature affirmative action for women, youth, and marginalized groups.

Trainers demonstrating to journalists regarding evidence reporting in Gulu

The Team Leader Gulu UN-Human Rights Commission Mr. Peter Mefor encouraged journalists to take their role of accountability seriously and perusing justice while presenting journalism with a human rights perspective.

During the training media practitioners were equipped with skills in the following areas: factual, balanced and well sourced reporting to strongly base on evidence; conflict sensitive reporting, professional, ethical practice and reporting that focuses on improving the lives of the people. Participants raised the journalists’ major practical dilemma of conflict of interest while reporting, nepotism, corruption in form of hand outs to journalists, invention of privacy and human rights violations of journalists by some leaders and some sections of society under mob action. The challenges associated with multiplicity of roles in media practice of, at times being a station manager, reporter, editor, talk-show moderator and program producer without adequate formal training and most without out contracts and inadequate remuneration; all of which participants said contribute to affecting quality of the media.

The training model on basic reporting covered the following: generating story ideas, identification and cultivation of sources, tools required for effective reporting. The module on rule of law, constitutional democracy and human rights focused on: understanding the laws that affect the practice of journalism in Uganda, the importance of the rule of law, journalists as human rights defenders and promotion of constitutionalism. The module of Media and Accountability covered; journalists as observers, ears and eyes in engaging community leaders, and government service providers; journalists owning their mistakes and taking corrective measure and being accountable to the people. The module on Evidence based reporting raised: how to base of facts and cross checking information; reliable sources and double checking facts and how to use internet and getting correct data to support the information from sources. The Model on development reporting covered: appreciation of the role of the media in development, information to empower local communities amidst competing story ideas. The Module on Conflict sensitive reporting focused on: journalism balancing side in conflict situations, avoiding escalating conflict and inflammatory language and how journalists are to safe guard themselves in conflict situation, clear identification and introduction to leaders in the communities.

The Participants committed to follow-up the training with documentation of their reports along the indicators of the training modules, work with Media Council of Uganda to monitor improvement in reporting on a quarterly basis. Council Members represented by Mr. Venis Omona, Mr. Peter J. Okello, and Ms. Lindah Waboka Nabusayi committed to work with journalists and partner with other agencies to continue improving the media legal and policy environment in Uganda.

Media Council Member Secretary, Pius Mwinganisa (right) with Council Members Ms Lindah Wanboka Nabusayi and Mr. Venis Omona(Left) monitoring the training of Journalists in Gulu