Pay TV operators defy UCC directives in the new licenses

Pay TV broadcasters have opposed a new directive by the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) requiring them to apply for fresh licences and accused the state regulator of renegading on its earlier promise to engage them in talks over the matter.

On Monday, UCC issued a notice in print media, directing the Pay TV operators, who include Multichoice Uganda, GOTV, Startimes, Azam, Zuku and Kwese to comply with the new licensing framework by April 30 or face closure.
But the pay TV operators, in a joint statement issued on Monday, expressed surprise that UCC has declared them non-compliant yet the two groups have been engaged in discussions on ironing out some issues in the new guidelines, which they said are not friendly.

They argued that one of the changes in the licensing framework requires them to pay Shs550m as annual license fees, up from the current Shs22 million. This the operators say is exorbitant since it will be paid alongside other regulatory fees such as 2 percent of the companies’ annual profits.

“Pay TV operators will have no choice but to pass on these increased fees to subscribers if we are to survive in business, which we are reluctant to do as it would make Pay TV unaffordable,” the statement reads in part.

The operators said they are committed to continue exchanging in discussions with UCC over the matter.

UCC has given operators up-to April 30 to comply or be closed.

According to the UCC directive, the new licensing framework was supposed to take effect on January 1 this year but the pay TV operators have defied the directive and UCC has given them up to April 30 to comply or face closure.

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