All radio broadcasters in Uganda have been asked to submit fresh applications for radio broadcasting licenses of their choice following revision of the licensing framework.
The revised licensing regime reclassifies radio broadcasting services into two categories: commercial broadcasting services and communal broadcasting services. The new regime also introduces a license for online radio broadcasters.
It provides for a five-year commercial and communal broadcasting license as opposed to the previous one, which was only valid for one year. Online radio broadcasters, on the other hand, are to be granted authorisation for one year.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Ag. Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo said in a brief to all radio broadcasters early this month that the changes which will take effect on 31 July 2020 have been necessitated by the need “to foster a more enabling environment for the provision of radio broadcasting services in Uganda” in accordance with sections 5(1)(b), 6(1)(e) and 39 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013.
A communal broadcasting license is to be granted on condition that the applicant is:
- A community-based organisation
- A registered Non-Government Organisation
- A social or cultural organisation
- A local community
- A special interest group
However, a community broadcasting license holder shall not be allowed to own more than one frequency, operate in more than one locality or engage in commercial broadcasting services.
To facilitate a seamless transition to the new framework, Ms Kaggwa Sewankambo wrote, “all existing radio broadcasters are accordingly invited to submit an application for the radio broadcasting license they wish to hold under the new licensing regime.”
However, existing operators will not be charged license application fees and initial entry fees for the respective licenses. They will only pay for the applicable license fees.
Existing radio broadcasters who wish to convert their licenses from commercial to communal license category will be required to express this intention in their application and submit information demonstrating eligibility for the new license.
In her brief, the UCC Executive Director reminded radio broadcasters that “possession of a valid license issued in accordance with Section 27 of the Act is a prerequisite for the grant of rights to use radio frequency spectrum.”
Accordingly, only holders of licenses issued in accordance with this new licensing framework shall be allowed to operate beyond 31st July 2020.