By Jolly Gwari
The management of Horizon Television (HTV) through Ibaale, Nakato, and Company advocates is threatening to sue Uganda Communications Commission-UCC for switching off the television.
On July 16th, 2019, Fred Otunnu, the acting Executive Director wrote to the management of Horizon television directing them to provide a formal written response to the allegation of unauthorized broadcasting of the Total Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt 2019 to avoid any possible further breach of broadcasting rights assigned to license holder, but before even the management of Horizon television filed their response to UCC, Uganda broadcasting corporation (UBC) Managing Director Winston Agaba David on July 18th, 2019 wrote to Horizon Television (HTV) ref UBC/MD/18/07/2019 which letter reads in part… Please be informed that as Signet we have received a directive from our regulator UCC to switch off your television from our Digital Terrestrial platform with immediate effect in a letter ref LA/181/48. This all happened while the head of state was addressing the media live at Nakasero state-house during his Operation Wealth creation campaign going on in Kampala.
According to the document seen by Red pepper, Horizon television management intends to sue the Acting Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission and Ms. Bowmans- AF Mpanga advocates for switching them off the Signet digital Terrestrial platform on alleged unauthorized broadcasting of the Total Africa cup of nations in Egypt.
Horizon television was disconnected from the SIGNET digital Terrestrial platform without being accorded sufficient notice and without according them a hearing on the unsubstantiated allegation from Complainant Supersport International (PYT) through its lawyers Bowmans.
Supersport has no locus to lodge a complaint claiming rights over a program aired on free to Air platform. Their rights are limited to pay-TV which HTV has not infringed upon. The claims by Supersport International are unfounded and the actions of the regulator have no basis whatsoever.
Horizon Television was disconnected from the Signet digital terrestrial platform at 9:00 pm during the head of state live coverage at Nakasero statehouse which contravenes the regulations that provide that disconnection has to be done only during the day.
However, HTV denies breaching of any broadcasting rights of anybody in regard to its free to air transmission of the Egypt 2019 AFCON matches. The switching off of its television was done in haste and in bad faith which has caused it to loss of business and damage. So HTV through its Legal team demands that UCC does immediately rescind its illegal order to UBC to switch off from Signet digital terrestrial platform, order the restoration on the platform and ensure uninterrupted airing of its programs on its channel.
Meanwhile, Horizon Television, their lawyer, Ibaale, Nakato and company advocates are instructed to demand that within seven days from the date hereof and in case not later than July 26th 2019, UCC pays them Ugx 4billion and SuperSport International (PYT) pay Ugx 3billion being losses and damages suffered through the acts of the Acting Executive Director UCC illegally causing the switching off of Horizon Television without any just cause failure to which instructions file a suit against the regulator UCC.
This comes on the heels of UBC’s failure to broadcast the just concluded AFCON 2019 after the ministry of finance failed to avail the Shs2bn that was passed by parliament so that they show the games to the Ugandans who could not afford pay television.