The Ugandan Government has shut down 23 radio stations, for reportedly “promoting witchcraft” and trying to con people out of money.
The directive to shut down 23 stations has sent shockwaves in the broadcast industry, as it was gathered that the licences of radio stations who hosted guests who claimed they could heal diseases like HIV, were taken.
Pamela Ankunda, a spokesperson for the Uganda’s communications regulator, UCC, told newsmen that the decision was taken after the stations ignored incessant warnings against advertising and promoting witchcraft.
“The commission makes reference the public notice of 27th March 2014… where all broadcasters were warned against advertising and promoting witchcraft.
“The commission has noted with concern that despite these several warnings your undertaking not to advertise and promote witchcraft… and the public outcry against such misuse of the airwaves, your station has continued to advertise and promote witchcraft in contravention of section 2 of the witchcraft act,” states a letter from the commission.
Pamela concluded by saying the radio stations accused of aiding and abetting fraud by allowing fraudsters to use their airwaves to con people through promotion of healing powers, will resume broadcasts if they comply with the broadcasting standards.
Uganda has a vibrant FM radio segment, with more than 270 radio stations on air. The stiff competition for a limited advertising pool has left many broadcasters with little option but to accept advertising from whoever can walk into the studio with some money.
Due to the advancing technology, Uganda radio stations are also found on the internet with all sorts of music ranging from hip hop, reggae and rock. Political debates are also interesting issues on the radio, you get to know what’s on people’s mind and how the country operates.
Some of these advertisers are herbalists and sellers of lucky charms, the practice the regulator has interpreted as promotion of witchcraft and fraud.