Opposition politician Kizza Besigye argues that his election campaign message was expected to receive nationwide coverage.
POLITICS | COURT
KAMPALA - The High Court has ordered the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) to compensate former presidential candidate Dr rtd Col Kizza Besigye with sh80m for failure to run his campaign programmes in 2011.
Justice Margaret Oguli- Oumo Monday ruled that Besigye was not accorded the air time he had paid for on UBC platfoms during the 2011 presidential race and he was, therefore, entitled to damages.
"I find that the plaintiff's equal rights to media were violated during the February 2011 elections which he was entitled to as any other presidential candidate," the judge ruled.
In her brief ruling, the judge ordered UBC to pay Besigye sh80m as general damages at an interest rate of 30% per annum until payment in full.
She also ordered the state broadcaster to pay the costs of Besigye's suit. The judge also directed UBC in future strictly observe the rights of all presidential candidates when it comes to coverage.
However, the court exonerated UBC employees from any wrongdoing when handling the plaintiff's programmes.
She also ruled that Besigye was not entitled to exemplary damages as he had requested. UBC's lawyer, Anthony Ochaya, was in court while Besigye and his lawyer Ernest Kalibbala did not appear.
Shortly after the ruling, Ochaya said that he was not in position to comment on the judgment until the court avails him with the physical judgment.
The judge said the typed judgment will be ready by next week.
"I am a bit confused, because at first the judge said Besigye did not have any cause of action against UBC. I need to read the entire judgment before I comment," Ochaya said.
The suit In 2012, Besigye dragged UBC to court alleging that he was discriminated against by the state media despite the fact that he had paid them money for the programmes.
He had filed the case against UBC and its former managing director Edward Musinguzi Mugasa.
He wanted to recover over sh21m for at least 200 airtime spots, which he said was paid to UBC through his agent, Big Ideas.
Besigye claimed UBC television and radio stations have a nationwide coverage in Uganda and as a result of which his campaign message was expected to receive nationwide coverage.
The radio stations include UBC radio, Mega FM and Star FM. Besigye says this violated his rights under the Constitution, the Presidential Elections Act 2005 and the Broadcasting Corporation Act 2005.