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We shall not renew your license! UCC speaks tough on local content

UCC Executive Director Eng Godfrey Mutabazi with ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze recently. UCC wants broadcasters to give 70% local content. (FILE PHOTO)

BUGOLOBI – The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the communications sector regulator has moved to compel broadcasters to abide by a directive to dedicate 70 per cent to local content even as the media houses pleaded for more time to comply.

In this, media houses are required to prioritise local content including local movies, sports and children programming over foreign content.

The move, according to UCC, would among others, enhance culture, national identity and job creation.

Speaking during a gathering of local content producers and broadcasters at UCC headquarters in Bugolobi, the commission’s executive director Godfrey Mutabazi vowed to take action against broadcasters who fail to implement the directive.

“Media houses continued broadcasting more of foreign content despite the directive,” Mr Mutabazi said.

“We are going to ensure everybody complies or else we shall not renew their licenses,” he added.

Recently, UCC published a local content quota monitoring report with none of the television stations in the country hitting the 70 per cent target.

UCC expects local drama to contribute 50 per cent of TV broadcasting, 10 per cent airtime to be dedicated to local documentaries while local children’s programmes and sports should contribute five per cent each with foreign content taking up the remaining 30 per cent.

Under the UCC regulations broadcasters are required to have 70% local content in their programming but currently on average, local content stands at 54% most of which is news and political shows.

Many media houses especially Television stations rely on foreign content especially drama, sports and music’s, which has continuously angered the regulator.

At the same meeting, content and film makers decried heavy taxes of some of the equipments including cameras and others.

They also appealed to UCC to rein in on high taxes imposed on equipment saying it has greatly hampered the development of the local industry.

Mr. Kin Kariisa the chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) the umbrella body of all broadcaster in the country said they have in their means tried but it is very expensive.

Mr. Kariisa however admitted the industry he heads has been reluctant in the matter especially on children programming.

“On children programming, we need to to work hard, we need to save then from foreign content, they should grow like Ugandans but not as Indians or Americans,” he said urging local content developers to take action.

Mr. Mutabazi said the commission will continue to promote the sector including putting a fund that can help the film industry grow as it has already promoted the national identity.

“This [film] industry is the best industry in the world. There is no way we can make the it die,” he said adding that, “Nigerians are proud of their film industry and it has done it for them without oil.

“Production and creative industry is the industry driving the world now; it has transformed all developed economies for-example Nigeria, go to India Bollywood and see what it has done for them, ” he said.

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