Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is investigating 23 TV stations following complaints that they have been broadcasting copyrighted content without permission, in contravention of the Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006.
The Communications regulator in a statement says they recently wrote to the stations, demanding that they immediately stop and desist from any further broadcasting of programmes or content for which they have not acquired the necessary authorisations or copyrights.
“Please note that Section 46 of the Copyrights and 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, license, assignment, or authorisation,” the Commission said in letters to the stations signed by Ms Susan Wegoye, the Ag. Executive Director.
The stations are: UBC Star TV, NBS TV, U24TV, Magic1 HD TV, Excel TV, GMTV, Fresh TV and Nyce TV. Others are: 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.
Altogether, 84 programmes previously aired by the said TV stations have been reported to the Commission for alleged copyright infringement – most of them foreign movies.
According to Section 31 and Schedule 4(a)(v) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, all broadcast programmes must comply with relevant laws and regulations, including Regulation 21(c) of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019, which requires all broadcasters to comply with the Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006 and the Industrial Property Act 2014.
“This is further emphasised in Clause 18 of Schedule B of the License Agreement, which was executed between your station and the Commission, which requires every station to establish and maintain records of rights obtained for programming requiring acquisition of copyrights and/or broadcasting rights (exclusive orders),” the Ag. Executive Director wrote.
As part of the investigations, in line with sections 5(1)(b), (x), (j),31 and 45 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission has directed the stations to respond to the complaints in writing.
The Commission has also demanded “proof and evidence of acquisition of copyrights and broadcasting rights” for the concerned programmes “in line with Clause 18 of Schedule B of the License Agreement executed between the station and the Commission.”