UCC Pins MP Balyeku On Radio Deal

The Uganda communications commission has accused Jinja central Member of Parliament and Basoga Baino FM proprietor Moses Grace Balyeku of causing the confusion between them and Ark TV Ltd.

Last week we reported a feud between UCC and Ark TV Ltd; with the latter accusing the Godfrey Mutabaazi communications body of failure to grant them a broadcasting licence for 87.7 Basoga Baino FM, which they acquired through Balyeku’s agent Patrick Bagarukayo of Targets Projects Ltd.BALYEKU

“We fully paid the required fees and provided all the relevant information but UCC has frustrated our efforts to acquire the radio,” Daphne Sajjabbi, the Ark TV Ltd Company Secretary was reported to have said.

Speaking to Red Pepper however, Fred Otunnu, the acting director, competition and consumers affairs attributed this whole saga to Balyeku, who he blamed for having sold the radio to two parties.

Otunnu said that on December 9, 2013, UCC received a letter from Basoga Baino requesting for the transfer of frequency 87.7 Kampala to Ark TV Ltd that was granted. UCC further advised Ark TV to submit a formal application for the process of the transfer. However, Balyeku withdrew this offer for another operator— Salt FM— in a January 23, 2014 letter to UCC.

This letter stated that it served to cancel all the earlier communication by them,” said UCC Executive director Godfrey Mutabaazi adding that UCC thereto wrote a letter of no objection. However, following the inquiries by the police and complaints by the proprietors of Ark Television LTD, UCC halted the transfer process by Basoga Baino to Salt FM and sought a clarification in its letter dated February 6, 2014 in respect to the intended transferee.

“The commission was concerned about the lack of clarity that pertains to the intended transferee as evidenced by the three letters of Basoga Baino dated December 9, 2013 in respect to Ark TV, January 23, 2014 in respect to Salt FM and February 25, 2014 in respect to Ark TV,” Mutabaazi said.

Vide its letter dated March 17, 2014; UCC brought this matter to the attention of Basoga Baino and also gave notice of revocation of license under section 41 of the UCC Act 2013 in light of the conduct of Basoga Baino FM and requesting for clarification.

Through M/S Alaka and company Advocates, Basoga Baino clarified that the transfer should be made to Ark TV Ltd. Accordingly, a notice of revocation of license issued under section 41 of the UCC act 1 of 2013 by the commission’s letter of March 17, 2014 has been stayed for the time being.

UCC clarification

Otunnu said that according to UCC’s records, Basoga Baino FM does not hold the frequency 87.7MHZ in Kampala but holds 87.7 in Jinja. “The correspondences on this matter have inadvertently referred to 87.7 MHZ in Kampala. However, the frequency that they were assigned for the station that they hold in Kampala is 107.0FM,” he said.

“Further, Basoga Baino can only transfer a station for which it holds a licence. The frequency is only to enable it to fulfill its licence obligations for the FM radio broadcast category and remains the property of the government of Uganda.

While the ‘no objection’ in respect to the transfer of ownership of the station in Kampala stands, the resource that was indicated in the transfer is not available,” Otunnu added. He also noted that UCC found the conduct of Basoga Baino FM in this instance queer and or suspect of a transferor due to the various allegations that were being made by both Salt FM and Ark TV; more so since this matter had become a subject of police investigation

More confusion

According to Otunnu, M/S Alaka and Co Advocates wrote a letter to UCC dated march 29, 2014 informing them that this matter had been withdrawn from police and that the parties had agreed to settle this matter amicably.

“The commission however finds that there appears to be some confusion as evidenced by the letter by Ark TV ref, ARK/021/14 of 25th April 2014, and notes that it is important to separate the transaction between Basoga Baino FM and Ark TV, from the transfer application that has been submitted to UCC,” Otunnu said.

UCC accordingly advised Balyeku to resolve these issues amongst themselves and warned Ark TV against tarnishing their image. Otunnu said that if Balyeku continues with this confusion, his license may be withdrawn for breach of operating agreement that he duly signed with UCC. Efforts to speak to Balyeku by press time were futile.

By John Nanyumba

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