27 January 2016

Uganda Regulator Says Closure of Radio Stations Not Political

The Uganda Communications Commission has said that the recent closure of several FM radio stations in the country is not politically motivated but rather an enforcement exercise for compliance.

"The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) would like to correct the wrong impression created by the ongoing nationwide enforcement exercise of non-compliant broadcasting stations in Uganda. A section of the Ugandan public seem to believe that the exercise is politically-motivated," said a release distributed by Isaac Kalembe the UCC media specialist.

"Far from the truth, this exercise aims to bring into line non-compliant stations with regard to licence requirements. Many of the affected radio stations are heavily indebted to the Commission, with regard to their licence fees," the release clarified and added that, "Under Section 27 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, any station which refuses to settle its indebtedness to the Commission is operating illegally. It's in this line that the Commission is undertaking this exercise."

It further said that prior to the commencement of this exercise, UCC had reminded the affected stations to clear their debts owed to the Commission. In addition, the Commission ran a public notice in the print media (refer to the Daily Monitor of January 14, 2016 p.33) and on the UCC website with regard to the impending closure.

According to Kalembe's release, most of the affected stations owe UCC quite huge amounts of money ranging from UGX4M (Uganda Shilling Four Million Only) to about UGX40M (Uganda Shilling Forty Million Only).

UCC has gone ahead to list the affected stations which Kalemb's release said is not exhaustive, because it excludes 15 TV stations and those radio stations who owe the Commission lesser amounts of money.

The 10 radio stations closed todate include Hunter FM (Bushenyi), Radio Maria (seven stations countrywide), Kyenjojo FM, Webs FM (Arua), Life FM (Fort Portal), Theo FM (Bushenyi), Kyenjojo Development Radio, Fire FM (Mubende) and Messiah Radio (Kasese). However, some of these radio stations have cleared the debt and are back on air.

"Suffice to say, UCC will continue with this exercise until all the stations comply with the Uganda Communications Act 2013. As a regulator of the communications sector in Uganda, UCC shall continue to exercise its oversight role for the good of Ugandans. Therefore, no political or otherwise insinuations should be pegged to this exercise," said the release.

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