Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has said that parliament hastily scrutinized regulations for the arts industry after they were laid before the House weeks ago.
Developed by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the Stage Play and Public Entertainment Rules No.80 of 2019 and the Uganda Communication (Film, Documentaries and Commercial Still Photography) Regulations No.79 of 2019 were approved by Parliament on 28th May and immediately tabled.
According to some of the rules, for each performance by an artist, they should receive a permit from UCC and that the Commission inspector has the power to withdraw a permit. For example under the Uganda Communication (Film, Documentaries and Commercial Still Photography) Regulations, no person is allowed to engage in any form of film production, still photography or any business related to the same without a license from UCC.
According to the Commission, the application for the license should have a full description of all scenes of the film and text of music to be used in the production and the applicant is also required to disclose the budget for the film, attach his or her net worth to prove financial capability and the Commission will have the power to require a bank bond or guarantee in support of the application.
The regulations also bar any person from engaging in commercial photography without a licence and commercial photography is to only take place in areas gazetted by UCC. They also bar any person from advertising a public performance without submitting a written application to UCC indicating that they own the work or they have permission for the works to be performed and others.
According to the government, the regulations seek to set standards, monitor, and enforce compliance relating to the content.
Kadaga says that Parliament’s Information, Communications and Technology Committee have been tasked to examine the rules and interact with different stakeholders to come up with a common ground.
She says that the regulations were presented in bulk before parliament and that they were approved without thorough scrutiny.
The Speaker was on Tuesday meeting different artists and comedians under the National Union of Creative Performing Artists and Allied Workers. Led by musician Halima Namakula, the artists presented a petition decrying the regulations which they said are meant to gag their talent from being published in its originality.
Hannington Bujingo, a comedian said that the regulations shocked the industry and that they need them repealed or revised by parliament.
‘It is dangerous to grant UCC such sweeping powers to censor and control every form of creative arts, a move that essentially amounts to thought policing, It would be even more dangerous to allow UCC to breach the privacy of all of its users and to monitor their activities without reasonable cause. It would be myopic to ignore the chilling effect that the regulations would have on our struggling creative industry,” reads part of the petition.
Bujingo also cited a need for the government to provide a political supervisor for the industry which he said is currently supervised by different ministries of government. The comedian also requested that the copy right law is implemented.
Workers’ MP Charles Bakkabulindi said that the regulations need to be fully scrutinized by parliament and allow players in the Arts Industry to express their views before being implemented.
Kadaga also noted that she was going to formally write regarding the inability to implement the copy right law as well as having a political head for the arts industry.