It is understood that officers of the Uganda Police over the weekend ordered the immediate disconnection of the BBCs local FM broadcasts, with Radio France International also affected as the CID investigates a series of allegations over corruption at state broadcaster UBC in connections with the illegal use of UBC facilities.
A number of other stations were reportedly affected too, as were internet service providers using UBC masts around Kampala. One source close to the BBC offices in Kampala, on condition of anonymity said: all I know is that our re-broadcasting facility was taken off air. Anyone who ever dealt with BBC should know that we have contracts in place for use of facilities and we do not steal as the police action suggests. I think personally that this was a knee jerk reaction by an overzealous police officer with no clue what damage he was doing, but of course one can never rule out other motives, when BBC and RFI are taken off the air at once.
The action also well near caused a diplomatic incident when at the same location the secure radio facility of the Italian Embassy was taken off air too, reportedly prompting a flurry of exchanges between the Embassy and the Foreign Affairs ministry in Kampala, demanding to have diplomatic installations left alone or risk a formal protest.
Over the past months repeated allegations emerged of individual station owners conniving with UBC staff to put unsanctioned installations on masts and even use the power, prompting police investigations but their latest range of disconnections without first establishing all facts ahead of such orders clearly opened the force to allegations in turn of ulterior motives and unproportionate use of their powers.