Communications sector regulator—Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has threatened to withdraw frequency assignment to 108 radios—with the regulator accusing the operators of failure to comply with the new radio broadcasting licensing framework.
The regulator in a statement indicated that despite several reminders, 108 radios have not yet obtained the new licenses.
The UCC has given the radio stations up to September 5, 2022 to acquire the new licenses.
“The Commission shall from September 5th, 2022 withdraw frequency assignments for radio stations that will have failed to satisfy the pending licensing requirements and obtained licenses under the new framework by the August 31,” the statement reads, advising the proprietors of all these radio stations to immediately contact the commission to resolve all outstanding compliance issues and to appear for physical engagement with the Commission on Wednesday.
The UCC also stated that according to sections 26 and 27 of the Act, it is an offence for any person to install, operate or otherwise provide broadcasting services in Uganda without a license issued by the Commission.
In order to improve the efficiency in the sector, the Commission on June 2, 2020 directed all existing radio broadcasters to apply for and obtain licenses under the new radio broadcasting licensing framework.
The UCC however, did not mention how many radios had complied with the new regulations.
Under the new framework, there are different license fees for commercial and communal broadcasting services.
The new framework also provides a five-year license as opposed to the previous one, which was only valid for one year.
The switch from a one-year to five-year license was precipitated by the need to improve the licensing process.
“Given the growing number of operators spread across the country, having to renew the radio license every year has proven to be unrealistic for not only the provider but also the Commission,” the Commission said.
The one-year license is also unfavourable for operators who might be interested in seeking finances to expand their business as financiers are unlikely to be keen on lending to a business with a short-term license.
License fees have been revised too, with the annual license fees for commercial radio, Tier 1 (national radio) fixed at sh7m, and Tier 2 (Kampala region) at sh5.6m.
Annual license fees for Tier 3 (regional cities) are at sh4.2m and Tier 4 (rest of the country) at sh3.5m.
Community radio on the other hand, is to pay sh1.4m in annual license fees.
The revised fees structure constitutes a reduction in sums payable from the current framework, under which annual fees range from sh10m-sh2m.