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Pay TVs protest 2400% increase in license fees by Ugandan regulator

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda’s leading Pay TV operators have protest against a 2,400% increase in the annual license fees payable to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

In a joint statement, they also refuted statements in a recent advert by UCC that said all Pay TV operators have not paid their licences. UCC went on to encourage the public to shun them.

The statement against the UCC directives was released jointly on Monday by Azam, Go TV, Kwese, Star Times, Zuku and DSTV.

“UCC is the process of developing a new licensing framework, on which we were in the process of engaging the regulator to ensure that the framework is enabling and appropriate. We are therefore surprised that the UCC, in the midst of our engagements, and after having licensed each of the Ugandan Pay TV operators under the prior licensing framework, allege that all of the Ugandan Pay TV providers are non-compliant,” the joint statement said.

Among the issues the Pay TV operators say they were still discussing with UCC, was an increase in annual licence fees payable by Pay TV operators by an exorbitant 2400% from sh22 million to sh550 million, plus 2% of operators’ Gross annual revenue, alongside other regulator fees.

In a notice posted in the press on Friday, UCC said that ” Following the transition to digital broadcasting, the commission undertook an extensive consultative process culminating in the introduction of a new licensing framework effective 1st January 2018. The consultations took into account international best practice and involved various sector players with particular regard for the interest of existing Pay Television operators, content service providers and consumers.

UCC went on to say “Implementation of the new TV licensing framework requires all existing broadcasters to apply for new licenses and/or modification of their existing licenses and accordingly alight their operations to the new licensing regime.”

They went on to name Pay Tvs that they said have to date not complied with the new licensing regime. They names six,  Multichoice, GoTv, Star TV, Azam, Wananchi and Kwese.

The Ministy of ICT and National Guidance has now organised a meeting Wednesday with the operators.

Meanwhile, head of UCC Godfrey Mutabazi has lashed out at the Pay TV operators.

“The threats by some Pay Television providers to increase customer fees under the current licensing regime are therefore not only alarmist but unfounded. The Communications Act empowers the Commission to regulate rates and tariffs of communication services,” he said.

“UCC requires Operators’ rates charged to reflect costs incurred offering those services & price increments justified.Following complaints in the broadcasting sub-sector a similar approach has been adopted under the new license framework ensuring price increments are justifiable.”

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