By a public notice dated 7th September 2020, UCC has given notice to all persons engaged in 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), Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), Video on Demand (VoD), Digital Audio radios and televisions, internet/web radio and internet/web television are required to obtain authorization from UCC before providing such services to the public to regularise their operations by obtaining the necessary authorization by 5th of October 2020.
This requirement emanates from the recent move by UCC to regulate the communications sector in exercise of its mandate. The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) was established under section 4 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013 as the regulator of the communications sector that includes telecommunications, broadcasting, radio communications, postal communications, data communication and infrastructure.
The general notice came as a shock to the stakeholders who were not aware that the general notice was a mere reminder of the existing legal obligations that they are supposed to comply with. As it is commonly said, if you want to hide something in Africa, write it. The reading culture is generally poor unfortunately. Ignorance of the law is no defence.
As a further reminder, on 8th November, 2019, the Uganda Communications Commission gazetted Eighteen Regulations to operationalise the Uganda Communications Act of 2013. They are; The Uganda Communications (equipment type approval) regulations, The Uganda Communications (film, documentaries and commercial still photography) regulations, The stage plays and public entertainments rules, The Uganda Communications (computer emergency response team) regulations, The Uganda Communications (intelligent network monitoring system) regulations, The Uganda Communications (text and multimedia messaging) regulations. The Uganda Communications (emergency response) regulations, The Uganda Communications (universal service) regulations, The Uganda Communications ( universal service and access fund) regulations, The Uganda Communications (interconnection and access) regulations, The Uganda Communications (pricing and accounting) regulations, The Uganda Communications (centralised equipment identification register) regulations, The Uganda Communications (content) regulations, The Uganda Communications (quality of service) regulations, The Uganda Communications (competition) regulations, The Uganda Communications (fees and fines) regulations, and The Uganda Communications (Licensing) Regulations, S.I No.95 of 2019, which primarily provides for regulation of provision of online data communication and broadcasting services in Uganda. It is an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment term of both to carry out any activity for which a license is required under the Act without the license.
The licenses required under the Act for specific licensable activities include a; telecommunications license; broadcasting license; radio communications license; postal services license; cinematograph theatre license; film or video works distributor license and value added services license. A person who is granted a license must operate in accordance with the law as well as the terms and conditions of the license. The above licenses may be modified, renewed and transferred.It is important for the relevant stakeholders to pay attention to the various regulations which affect their operations in one way or another and comply so as to void interruption in their service.