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UCC  Mandates Registration for Online Media Operators, Sets Two-Month Deadline

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has issued a directive requiring all operators of online media channels to register within two months or face closure. This mandate affects “online TVs,” “online publications,” “online radios,” and other internet and app-based media channels.

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The UCC revealed that although there are more than 200 online media channels in the country, only 35 have been licensed to operate. The commission charges a registration fee of only 100,000 shillings per year for online data communications services. However, only three providers of online content services, which include subscription-based viewer services, have registered so far, according to Abudu Sallam Waiswa, UCC’s Head of Legal Affairs.

The announcement was made during a recent dialogue between UCC and online media practitioners aimed at streamlining the working relationship between the regulatory body and online media operators. Dr. Waiswa explained that the registration requirements have been simplified to encourage compliance. Online communications service providers need to pay an annual fee of 100,000 shillings, while online content providers are required to pay 8,100 dollars (approximately 30 million shillings) per year.

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Dr. Waiswa emphasized that proprietors must fulfill several prerequisites, including obtaining a company registration certificate, a tax identification number, and complying with employee regulations such as providing contact letters and meeting National Social Security Fund (NSSF) obligations.

“We urge all owners and managers to ensure their channels are regularized through registration to avoid legal repercussions that may include closure,” Waiswa stated.

In response to concerns about meeting the registration deadline, the UCC and media practitioners have agreed on a two-month period to complete the process.

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George William Nyombi Thembo, the UCC Executive Director, highlighted the importance of professionalizing the media industry. He stated that professionalization would pave the way for a self-regulation mechanism, enhancing the overall standards of the media industry.

Thembo emphasized that the dialogue aimed to foster a path forward for increasing professionalism and protecting the public, including vulnerable groups, from potentially harmful media practices.

The UCC’s directive is seen as a significant step towards ensuring that the burgeoning online media sector operates within a regulated framework, promoting ethical standards and accountability.

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