Posted on 15 February 2010
Mr. Museveni’s NRM government has told Buganda officials who were in the final stages of preparing to open a Buganda TV station to forget it. The order was given by the chairman of Mr. Museveni’s broadcasting council, Godfrey Mutabaazi. According to the Baganda Eddoboozi newspaper, the Kabaka of Buganda first thought of opening a TV station, to develop his kingdom, a few years ago. Buganda government officials formed a separate company called Diamond Communications Limited to implement the Kabaka’s plans. And on February 24, the NRM government’s broadcasting council issued a licence to Diamond to open the TV station. Since then, Buganda officials have been working hard, including ordering equipment from overseas, to put everything in place for the Buganda TV station to open.
In announcing the surprise cancellation of the TV licence, Godfrey Mutabaazi claimed that the licence had to be cancelled because Buganda has taken too long to open the station from the date they got it. Mutabaazi claimed that it was against the laws and regulations governing broadcast licences to delay as much as Buganda did. The TV licence cancellation comes only one week after the NRM government similarly the licence for a new Buganda radio station. The radio licence had also been obtained by Diamond Communications in 2008 and was not related to the CBS FM radio stations, which the NRM government closed late in 2009.
When the NRM government cancelled the new Buganda radio and TV licences, it completed a total radio and TV information blackout on Kabaka Mutebi and his development programs from the citizens of Buganda. In October and November 2009, the NRM government ordered all media houses in Uganda to stop reporting might promote the image of Kabaka Mutebi or his programs or Buganda identity. And that was after Buganda’s main station CBS FM Radio and its two channels were illegally closed. The timing of the cancellations and closures seem to be aimed at bankrupting Kabaka Mutebi’s projects and forcing Buganda to apologize for resisting the NRM government’s plans for the kingdom.
Now, the only public channels in Uganda which the Kabaka can reliably use to guide his subjects in development are two Baganda owned newspapers, Eddoboozi and Ggwanga. However, the two publications are also operating on slippery ground. However, Buganda is far from down and out. Baganda in Europe and the USA have started a variety of media outlets and some of them are dedicated to Buganda national interests. For example, last week word spread like fire around Kampala surburbs that a Baganda radio called Ababaka (www.ababaka.com) was going to start broadcasting on Short Wave (SW) every Saturday and Sunday from 8:00PM – 10:00PM. Our reporters in Kampala have not yet been able to find people who have a SW radio and were able to tune into Ababaka Radio last weekend. However, the word continues to spread and Short Wave radios are selling very well. The USA based Baganda radio does not need a licence from the NRM because it is supposed to use satellites to transmit but it is hard to know yet if the NRM interfered with it at all. Ababaka Radio has been broadcasting for a long time and is already very popular in the diaspora especially in the USA, UK and Germany.