Over 100 radio stations to close over failure to renew licences

Broadcaster, Gad Asaba, presents a programme in the studios of Kazi-njema online radio.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has threatened to withdraw frequency assignment to 108 radios accusing the operators of failing to comply with the new radio broadcasting licensing framework.

In its statement, UCC indicates that despite several reminders, a total of 108 radios have not yet obtained the new licenses.

The regulator has now given an ultimatum of up to September 5, 2022, for the radio stations to acquire the new licences.

“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 licences under the new framework by the August 31,” the statement reads in part.

UCC further advises the proprietors of these radio stations to immediately contact the commission to resolve all outstanding compliance issues and to appear for physical engagement with the Commission tomorrow Wednesday, August 10, 2022.

In its bid to improve the efficiency in the sector, the Commission on June 2, 2020 directed all existing radio broadcasters to apply for and obtain licences under the new radio broadcasting licensing framework.

However, the UCC did not mention how many radios had complied with the new regulations.

Under the new framework, there are different licence fees for commercial and communal broadcasting services.

Inside the studios of Kazi-njema online radio.

The new framework also provides a five-year licence as opposed to the previous one, which was only valid for one year.

The switch from a one-year to five-year licence 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 licence every year has proven to be unrealistic for not only the provider but also the Commission,” the Commission says.

The Commission adds that 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.

Licence fees have been revised too, with the annual licence fees for commercial radio, Tier 1 (national radio) fixed at Shs7m, and Tier 2 (Kampala region) at Shs5.6m.

Annual licence fees for Tier 3 (regional cities) are at Sh4.2m and Tier 4 (rest of the country) at Shs3.5m.Community radio on the other hand, is to pay Shs1.4m in annual license fees.

The revised fees structure constitutes a reduction in sums payable from the current framework under which annual fees range from Shs10m-Shs20m.

The law

According to Sections 26 and 27 of the UCC Act, it is an offence for any person to install, operate or otherwise provide broadcasting services in Uganda without a licence issued by the Commission.

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