The Uganda Communications Commission is a Corporate body established under Section 4 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 to regulate communication services in Uganda, including telecommunications, radio, television, broadcasting and postal and courier services.
In accordance with Section 5 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission is mandated to monitor, inspect, license, supervise, control and regulate all communications services. The Commission is also mandated to set standards and enforce compliance relating to the content.
Section 2 of the Act defines ‘Communications services’ to mean services consisting of the dissemination or interchange of audio, visual or data content using postal radio or telecommunications media, data communication and includes broadcasting. ‘Content’ is defined to include “any sound, text, still picture, moving picture or other audiovisual representation, tactile representation or any combination of the proceeding which is capable of being created, manipulated, stored, retrieved or communicated electronically”, and ‘data’ is defined to mean the electronic representation of information in any form.
Hence, under the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the provision of any services that involve the communication to the public of any content, whether by way of audio, video, sound, still or moving pictures or a combination thereof, is a communication service that is subject to the regulatory control of the Commission.
Therefore, in exercise of its powers under section 6(e) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission classified online data communication services as a communication services for which one requires an authorisation from the Commission any and all persons currently offering or desirous for providing online data communication services.
All online data communication service providers, including online publishers, online news platforms, online radio and television operators are, therefore, advised to apply and obtain authorisation from the Commission. The Commission may as appropriate embark on enforcement activities against all non-compliant providers of online data communication services, and this may entail directing Internet Service Providers (ISP) to block access to such websites and/or streams.
Terms and conditions of authorisation
The Commission authorises Entities to provide online data communication services on the following terms and conditions;
- The Authorised Entity undertakes to abide at all times to the provisions
of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 and all other laws in Uganda.
- The Authorised Entity shall ensure full and extensive disclosure of the shareholding and financial structures as provided in the application form and shall ensure that this status is adhered to throughout the authorisation period.
- The Authorised Entity shall ensure content uniformity between the online version and any print versions of the content that may be printed in its Newspaper.
- The Authorisation shall be restricted to only the Authorised Entity stated herein and shall not be transferred except with a prior written consent of the Commission.
- The Authorised Entity undertakes to ensure that all employees are given contracts of employment clearly specifying the terms and conditions of their employment.
- The Authorised Entity undertakes to ensure that all that is broadcast on its website or any other online electronic platform is in conformity with the laws of Uganda, the code of conduct for broadcasters, the Minimum broadcasting standards and the code of ethics of journalists.
- The Authorised Entity shall have a public interest obligation to:
a) ensure pluralism in the provision of news, views and information, giving wide and enlighten choices to citizens and contribute significantly to an effective and vibrant democracy provide a balanced and wide variety of points of view on matters of public concern;
(b) contribute to the development of pro-social values by providing content of specific interest to all ethnic groups, gender, and persons with disabilities in an accurate and fair manner;
8. The Authorised Entity undertakes to ensure that any content which is broadcast on its platform(s)-
(a) is not contrary to the public morality;
(b) doesn’t promote the culture of violence or ethnical prejudice among the public;
(c) is free from distortion of facts;
(d) is not likely to create public insecurity or violence;
(e) is in compliance with all the existing laws;
(f) is not pornographic in nature;
9. The Authorised Entity undertakes to make all its content available to the Commission immediately on demand.
10. That the Commission may cancel this Authorisation by notice in writing for breach of any of the above provisions in which case the Authorised Entity thereupon will immediately cease offering its online publishing services.