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One radio station re-opened, but another loses its licence

(Media Institute/IFEX) - Radio Saptiensa, one of the four FM stations shut down on 13 September 2009 during the riots that shook Uganda two weeks ago after a power struggle that broke out between the government and the Buganda kingdom, has re-opened. The Broadcasting Council announced that the management of the Catholic Church-owned station had apologized "for excesses of their staff."

Broadcasting Council chairman Godfrey Mutabaazi announced a week after the closure that the station had returned to the air but been seriously warned. President Yoweri Museveni may have re-opened the station to avoid falling out of favour with the huge Christian population.

In another development, Central Broadcasting Services (CBS), which is owned by Buganda Kingdom and was one of the media outlets closed, has lost its license. The largest and most critical radio in the country was operating two channels - 88.8 and 89.2. Sources say Suubi FM and Akaboozi ku Bbiri are likely to be re-opened but with stringent conditions.


BACKGROUND:

The closure of media outlets in Uganda is not new under Museveni. He closed "The Daily Monitor" for a whole week in October 2002 after the paper published a story alleging a military helicopter had gone down fighting the Lord's Resistance Army rebels.

In 2005, Museveni closed KFm, which is owned by the same group, after reporter Andrew Mwenda heavily criticized him over the death of South Sudan President Dr John Garanga. Garanga died when Museveni's helicopter, which he was using to return home after paying a call on Museveni, crashed.

Mwenda criticized Museveni for flying his colleague at night and in a faulty helicopter. Museveni warned Mwenda and threatened to "deal with him". Mwenda, who used to host "Andrew Mwenda Tonight", an evening talk show broadcast on Kfm, returned fire, describing Museveni as a "coward". Mwenda was arrested and detained for about four days and Kfm was closed for over a week.

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