Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has dismissed claims by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) President Kizza Besigye that it owes him Shillings 21 million, which he allegedly paid to air out his campaign messages in last yearâ€™s presidential elections but were never aired.
In its written defense filed before the High Court on Tuesday, UBC contends that the money was refunded to ‘Big Ideas’, the company that contracted UBC to air the campaign messages.
The defense was filed through Kiwanuka and Karugire Advocates.
The broadcaster also asserts that 'Big Ideas' contracted it as an agent of the Interparty Cooperation (IPC) but not on behalf of Besigye as alleged in his law suit.
The state broadcaster further asserts that it conveyed Besigye’s campaign messages in its prime news slots and that it did not discriminate against him, as alleged.
UBC’s defense stems from a case that arose on April 23 this year, when the opposition leader sued UBC, claiming the broadcaster declined to air his messages on its various platforms of UBC TV, UBC radio, Mega FM, and Star FM, yet he had paid for them.
Jointly sued is the then UBC managing director, Edward Musinguzi-Mugasa, whom Besigye purports was directly responsible for the actions of the broadcaster at the time.
Dr Besigye, who led the biggest opposition group against President Museveni and his party, says he was discriminated against on the basis of his political opinion.
He substantiates his claims by saying that the campaign messages of other presidential candidates were regularly broadcast while his were left out.
Through his lawyers of A.F Mpanga Advocates, Besigye said this violated his rights under the Constitution, the Presidential Elections Act 2005 and the Broadcasting Corporation Act 2005.
In his petition, Besigye who came second after in the polls won by President Museveni, is seeking a court declaration that UBC violated his fundamental rights and freedoms.
He also wants court to pronounce that the broadcaster must in future observe fundamental rights of all candidates.
He also wants to be paid an annual interest of 30% on the money demanded from December 2010.
The case file has been allocated to Justice Elizabeth Musoke who is yet to set a hearing date.