By Isaac Norman Mwambazi
On Monday September 7, 2020, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) issued a public notice to individuals intending to and those offering online data communication and broadcasting services to register their companies with the Commission, in order to be authorised to carry out such activities.
“The purpose of this public notice, therefore, is to advise all persons currently offering or planning to commence the provision of online data communication and broadcasting services including but not limited to blogs, online televisions, online radios, online newspapers, audio over IP (AoIP), among others to obtain authorisation from UCC before providing such services to the public,” the notice from reads in part.
After many Ugandans reading the notice, social media has been abuzz with reactions from those providing such services through blogs, online news sites, and social media pages, with many of them wondering what the intentions of UCC are.
Today, the Uganda Broadcasters Association has asked UCC to explain the terms, conditions and the motive behind the action.
“There are many things that are not clear, from what I read. They need to be clear on who they mean by the operator. Any industry needs to be regulated, but regulations should be those that grow the industry and not bring it down,” Joseph Beyanga, the Secretary General of the Uganda Broadcasters Association said, and made it clear that they are not against UCC’s regulations.
Following the public uproar, UCC Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo tweeted to provide clarification on the contested matter.
“Thank you for the interest shown in the subject. In way of clarification, this is not a new requirement. It was introduced in 2018 after engagement of existing online data communication and broadcast players. To date, 48 players are already registered and working with UCC in this,” Kaggwa said.
She added, “Why do we regulate? To uphold our national values, protect our national identity, balance commercial, and public interest, and oversee user redress mechanisms. This includes protection of minors, protection of the public from harmful, malicious, misleading, and/or illegal content.”
UCC said that the application form can be accessed on the commission website. Application fees for authorisation is Shs100,000 annually.