Government re-opens CBS radio

After 12 months off air, the government has allowed Central Broadcasting Station (CBS) to resume operations.

The Minister for Information and Technology, Mr Aggrey Awori made the announcement in Kampala on October 23, putting an end to speculation on when and whether the station would be opened.

Mr Awori who also handed over the equipment to managers of CBS during a press conference said; “The government has allowed CBS to come back on the air,” adding that, “the government of Uganda and management of CBS have been holding consultations with the objectives of resolving the issues and opening CBS. Arising out of the consultations, government is happy to announce that CBS may resume broadcasting with the effect from today, 23 October.”

The minister also handed over the confiscated transmission equipment to the CBS managers.

On September 10 2009, the Broadcasting Council shut down and revoked the licence of CBS for allegedly using it to “mobilise and incite the public and sowing seeds of hatred among Ugandans” leading to the death of more than 27 people during the riots that followed a standoff between the central government and the seat of the Buganda kingdom.

The minister also noted that other “administrative and regulatory issues shall be handled by the Broadcasting Council.”

The Broadcasting Council chairman Godfrey Mutabazi told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ) that the station has however been re-opened without an operating licence.

“The radio was re-opened on political grounds, but its re-opening is not legally binding.” Mr Mutabazi said.

Speaking to HRJN, CBS Managing Director Godfrey Kaaya Kavuma confirmed that the station was yet to recieve it’s broadcasting license back saying, “The meeting with the ICT ministry cleared the re-opening, but referred us to the Broadcasting Council over our license which was revoked. So we are engaging the broadcasting council from today”.

Mutabazi said the meeting between CBS management and his Broadcasting council would convene soon to agree on the license terms and conditions in a free and fair process to all.

In January a Cabinet sub-committee formed to address the CBS closure came up with 12 conditions for reopening the radio station. CBS management was required to apologise to the government “through the Broadcasting Council”, relocate its studio from the Kabaka’s palace (Bulange), withdraw the court case brought by employees against the government, dismiss journalists and presenters who allegedly participated in inciting the September riots, and follow the minimum broadcasting standards.

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