Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi

Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi

Meeting media owners and managers on Friday at Hotel Africana, Muhwezi noted that the media is a powerful tool which can create instability during election if not used responsibly.

Referencing the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Muhwezi said all media owners should monitor and be responsible for the information that is produced.

?Yes the constitution gives media freedom but they are things which you should and should not do especially during this period. Yes you are a powerful tool, but what information do you give people? Don?t leave things to the staff but monitor whatever is aired because it affects you too,? he said.

Muhwezi said he hates closing down media houses because of irresponsible journalism.

?I hate closing any media house but I can do so. Help me not do so,? he added.

During the meeting, media proprietors especially from TV stations complained that although government was allocated free airtime, many officials do not want to come and explain issues to citizens.

?You requested us to provide free airtime to government, but it is a big challenge to get them to appear on TV. When they do, they want to mix politics and development. We are investors and this time, we want government to pay for the talk shows,? a representative from one of the TV stations said.

Kenneth Kazoora from WBS complained that since the digital migration policy started, TV stations have lost viewership and advertisers have withdrawn adverts.

?As we talk, advertisers are signing out due to the effects of digital migration. We are suffering unfortunately government has not helped us at all. We feel neglected,? Kazoora cried out.

Other media owners said during elections, politicians whether from government or opposition should pay for talk shows.

Commissioner for National Guidance Kambarage Kakonge cautioned the media owners to uphold the principles of common good and patriotism enshrined in the constitution.

?As the country moves towards the 2016 elections, media houses have to be mindful that mother Uganda that feeds us all and the pearl of Africa should be saved from the instability partly caused by unpatriotic reporting,? he said.

He emphasized that the government has a duty of inculcating core values and beliefs to assist citizens to consciously aim at individual and national aspirations while at the same time preserving the country.

The secretary of the media council Pius Mwinganisa, called on the media houses to control and contain abuse through clear guidelines and internal editorial policies which he said would guard against biased reporting.

?People believe so much what the media says. But if it is correctly managed, it?s a very viable tool for development,? he said.

Adolf Mbaine, a lecturer in the department of Journalism and Communication Makerere University observed that media proprietors greatly determine and control content through their internal editorial policies, selective allocation of resources and appointing people who serve their interests.

However he advised government not to be very tough only on compliance but make policies and programs that encourage proprietors to operate responsibly.

By Mary Karugaba, The New Vision

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