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Ugandan regulator probes TV stations

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has placed 23 television stations under investigation for allegedly airing content that violates the East African country’s copyright laws.

Susan Wegoye

The TV stations include UBC Star TV, NBS TV, U24TV, Magic1 HD TV, Excel TV, GMTV, Fresh TV, Nyce TV, HGTV, GTV, Top TV, Ndejje TV, BBS TV, Kingdom TV, UBC TV, Baba TV, BTM TV, Tagy TV, Family TV, KS TV, See TV, Spirit TV and STV.

The commission had written to the stations demanding they immediately cease broadcasting programmes or content for which they have not acquired the necessary authorisation or rights.

A letter to the stations signed by acting UCC executive director Susan Wegoye reads: “Please note that Section 46 of the Copyrights & Neighbouring Rights Act of 2006 strictly prohibits broadcasters from exhibiting copyrighted material to the public for commercial purposes by way of broadcast, public performance or otherwise without a valid transfer, licence, assignment or authorisation.”

According to the Uganda Communications Act of 2013, all broadcast programmes must comply with relevant laws and regulations, including the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019, which requires all broadcasters to comply with the Copyrights & Neighbouring Rights Act of 2006 and the Industrial Property Act of 2014.

Wegoye went on to say that adherence to the law is further stipulated in the licence agreement that was signed between the 23 stations and the UCC, which requires every station to maintain records of rights obtained for programming that they broadcast.

The UCC added that 84 programmes previously aired by the TV stations had been reported for alleged copyright infringement – most of them foreign movies – and the stations have been directed to respond to the complaints in writing as well as provide proof and evidence of acquisition of copyrights and broadcasting rights to the content.

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