KAMPALA — The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has issued new sponsorship and advertising guidelines to broadcasters –putting an end to what the regulator describes as excessive manipulation of consumers.
UCC has for long protested the high-level influence on editorial content by sponsors/advertisers saying that broadcasters have continued to change media outputs to suit their sponsors’ interests.
UCC in a statement says “broadcasters must ensure that the editorial integrity of their programming is not influenced by the sponsor.”
The regulator has also banned sponsorship of news, current affairs and religious services on both radio and television.
A programme is deemed sponsored if any part of its costs of production, acquisition or transmission is met through payment or other valuable reward to the broadcaster largely to promote the sponsors’ name, image, product, activities or services.
According to UCC, news items such as flashes, bulletin headlines, and top stories, special and breaking news must not be sponsored.
The head of multimedia content at UCC the guideline apply with immediate effect.
“Adverts should be should be 12 or 10 minutes, not more than that because consumers deserve more content,” he said.
Other must-not-be sponsored items include; parliamentary programmes; opening of parliament, highlights from parliament, select committee hearings, special committee of parliament, and commissions of inquiry.
UCC also want media houses to distinguish advertisements from editorial content especially if they use a situation, performance or style reminiscent of editorial content that might prevent the audience from quickly recognizing the message as an advertisement.
UCC also bans advertisements that promote psychic practices or practices related to the occult which include satanism, casting of spells, palmistry, attempts to contact the dead, divination, the invocation of spirits or demons and exorcism.
For TV, split screen advertising where the TV screen is divided into two parts or more with one showing news or current affairs and the other an advert has also been banned.
However, in other programmes it is allowed, provided it doesn’t exceed 50% of screen space.
The guidelines also bar people who regularly present news or informational broadcasts from doing commercial communications unless these communications are meant to promote appeals by registered charities or public services campaigns or announcements for safety, health education.
Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive Director at UCC confirmed the commission commissioned arrived at the decision after a three-year consultative process with key stakeholders including broadcasters.