UCC re-summons Bloggers, Vloggers to obtain licenses by October

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has today re-summoned Social Media Bloggers, Blogs, Video Bloggers (YouTube Vloggers) to register for authorisation by 5th October 2020. This runs as a second summon since the initial callout in 2019.

Apparently, the interest to regulate blogs, social media bloggers, and vloggers by UCC is largely sparked by the fate of the country’s political orbit, with online media steering unregulated content on a daily.

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Hence, in a bid to regulate who can and what type of information can be published by property owners, UCC wants all individuals and companies registered with its authorization mark (This platform is regulated by UCC) by 5th October.

Who is required to register and Pay License Fees

According to UCC, all data communicators regardless of which platform they use to publish Information are required to register for authorisation to abide by the set terms and conditions for valid operations in Uganda.

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Though the commission is not specific on bloggers and social media influencers as per its notice. The set rythm means regulation of each and every Social media user with any sort of monetisation of their profile, leav aone OTT tax.

Categories listed by the commission as per the notice include:

  • Blogs
  • Online televisions ie: Local TVs (NTV and the likes), YouTube channels
  • Online Radios
  • Online Newspapers
  • Audio Over IP (AoIP) ie: Podcasts
  • Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
  • Video on Demand(VOD) ie: Movie providers

By the commission’s notice, all persons involved in the provision of online media services shall be required to regularise their operations by obtaining mandatory authorisation with a non-refundable fee.

Failure to obtain authorisation from the commission by the set date will lead to the mounting of tough consequences on defaulters.

How much a UCC Authorisation License costs

UGX 100,000 per year is the cost of a valid UCC Online Media License. No Matter the brand’s revenue structure or online authority, the non-refundable fee will be required in order to obtain valid annual authorisation.

The Commission’s Terms and Conditions for Authorisation

  1. The Authorised Entity undertakes to abide at all times to the provisions of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 and all other laws in Uganda.
  2. The Authorised Entity shall ensure full and extensive disclosure of the shareholding and financial structures as provided in the application and shall ensure that this status is adhered to throughout the authorisation period.
  3. Authorised Entities shall ensure content uniformity between the online version and any print versions of the content that may be printed.
  4. Authorisation shall be restricted to only the Authorised Entity and shall not be transferred except with prior written consent of the Commission.
  5. The Authorised Entity undertakes to ensure that all employees (if any) are given contracts of employment clearly specifying the terms and conditions of their employment.
  6. The Authorised Entity undertakes to ensure that all that is broadcast on its website or any other online electronic platform is in conformity with the laws of Uganda, the code of conduct for broadcasters, the Minimum broadcasting standards and the code of ethics of journalists.
  7. An authorised Entity shall have a public interest obligation to:
    • ensure pluralism in the provision of news, views and information, giving wide and enlighten choices to citizens and contribute significantly to an effective and vibrant democracy provide a balanced and wide variety of points of view on matters of public concern;
    • contribute to the development of pro-social values by providing content of specific interest to all ethnic groups, gender, and persons with disabilities in an accurate and fair manner;
  8. The Authorised Entity undertakes to ensure that any content which is broadcast on its platform(s)-
    • is not contrary to the public morality;
    • doesn’t promote the culture of violence or ethnical prejudice among the public;
    • is free from distortion of facts;
    • is not likely to create public insecurity or violence;
    • is in compliance with all the existing laws;
    • is not pornographic in nature;
  9. The Authorised Entity undertakes to make all it’s content available to the Commission immediately on demand.
  10. That the Commission may cancel this Authorisation by notice in writing for breach of any of the above provisions in which case the Authorised Entity thereupon will immediately cease offering its online publishing services.

But Will UCC Succeed in regulating Online Media Players as it plans?

In Uganda’s Startup ecosystem, Government plays a minor role in support of ICT based Innovations. Hence, the creation of Startup online media platforms, and the acquisition of funding becomes a tough path for project founders.

Once launched, founders go ahead to create audiences which in most cases don’t match Uganda as the base country, but rather a big percentage from International feeds.

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Hence, with UCC coming up to seek regulation over these platforms that partially operate in the country, authorisation would be hard and unfair based on the platform’s target audience.

Consequences by the commission to defaulting providers will notably include blocking access of these portals in Uganda. But as per the global Innovation ecosystem rules, the policy becomes a disabler, rather than an enabler to ICT Innovators.

Nonetheless, What’s your take on the commission’s plan to regulate Social media bloggers (Page owners), Vloggers (YouTuber channels), and Blogs in Uganda? Share with us your opinions in the comment section below, or through the above Poll.

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