UCC bows to pressure, suspends new license fees for pay TV operators

UCC’s Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi (UCC Photo)

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has finally agreed to suspend the new licensing fees for pay TV operators following protests.

On Monday, Pay TV operators threatened to increase customer subscription fees 10 times or more after UCC increased pay TV licensing from Shs 22m to Shs550m per annum, among other rules.

But UCC Managing Director Godfrey Mutabazi said following an emergency meeting with the pay TV operators, they have agreed to suspend the new licensing framework and draft a new one.

“We have been discussing these issues and we have agreed that all pending issues be resolved. We believe that within a week or so, we shall have a clear document detailing what the new licensing structure will look like,” Mr Mutabazi said at a press conference in Kampala on Thursday.

“The notice has been withdrawn. We are in dialogue right now,” he added.

He also insisted that UCC does not intend to hurt the Pay TV industry as is being portrayed.

On Monday, UCC issued a notice in print media, directing the Pay TV operators, who include Multichoice Uganda, GOTV, Startimes, Azam, Zuku and Kwese to comply with the new licensing framework by April 30 or face closure.

But the pay TV operators, in a joint statement issued on Monday, expressed surprise that UCC has declared them non-compliant yet the two groups have been engaged in discussions on ironing out some issues in the new guidelines, which they said are not friendly

The operators said the new Shs550m licence fees is exorbitant since it will be paid alongside other regulatory fees such as 2 percent of the companies’ annual profits.

Speaking at the same press conference, Mr Charles Hamya, the Multichoice Uganda general manager, who represented pay TV service providers, welcomed the suspension and said in their discussions with UCC, they will aim at establishing a licensing regime that is friendly to consumers.




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