Pay TV Operators in Uganda have reacted angrily at a plan by Uganda Communications Commission to hike their annual fees by an astounding 2400%.
In a statement published by the leading six pay TV companies DSTV, Kwese, Startimes, Azam Media, Zuku and Gotv, the operators decried the plan to increase their annual fees from Shs 22,000,000 to 550,000,000.
“The UCC is in the process of developing a new licensing framework on which we were in the process of engaging the regulator to ensure the framework is enabling and appropriate,” reads in part a joint statement by the Pay TV broadcasters.
“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 the Ugandan Pay TV providers are non-compliant.”
“For Example, one of the UCC’s changes to the licensing framework was to increase the annual licence fees payable by Pay TV operators by an exorbitant 2400% from UGX 22,000,000 to US$150,000 (approximately UGX550,000,000) plus 2% of operators gross annual revenue alongside other regulatory fees.”
The operators warn that if the fees are hiked, they will have no option but to pass on the new costs to the consumers leading to a 2400% hike in annual subscription rates.
“Pay TV operators will have no choice but to pass on these increased fees to subscribers if we are to survive, which we are reluctant to do as it would make Pay TV services unaffordable and place an additional burden on consumers.”
The operators demand that the new licensing framework by UCC should be ” a consumer and investor friendly regime that will make Pay TV services more affordable and increase rather than decrease the take up of Pay TV services.”
Last week, UCC issued a public notice listing DSTV, Gotv, Star Times, Azam Media, Zuku TV and Kwese Pay TV as having failed to comply with new television licensing framework.
“This is therefore to remind them to immediately comply with the new licence regime or otherwise stop providing broadcasting services in Uganda.”
“The Commission shall, with effect from April 30, 2018 commence vigorous enforcement action against all Pay TV providers that will continue broadcasting without complying with the law and the commission’s directive. Enforcement measures shall include but (not be) limited to closure of broadcasting facilities and prosecution of offenders for illegal broadcast in accordance with section 27 of the Uganda Communications Act.
Social media erupted in cynicism and anger at UCC’s fees hike plot with one blogger comparing it to UCC trying to sink a ship.
Kahill Kuteesa posted: “Everywhere I turn UCC is trying to sink a ship.
Thomas Ddumba added: “Living and working in Uganda is akin to being at sea, all the time.”