On September 1st 2020 at 10AM EAT, the Uganda Press Photo Award, in partnership with Chapter Four, will hold an online read-through of the newly announced regulations set up to govern the production and dissemination of film, documentaries and still photography in Uganda.
Background: The Uganda Communications Commission recently announced new regulations to govern the creative industries within Uganda. These were read on the floor of Parliament on 28th May 2020 and are now effectively law.
The regulations apply to photographers, filmmakers, film production companies and audio-visual content producers, to mention just a few. Under these regulations, a person needs a license not only to produce but also to exhibit any commercial photographic or audio-visual content. They are then required to get another license to broadcast this same content on any other platform and there are fees attached to each different level of all these processes.
This is just the start of a long and somewhat confusing process of understanding effectively what these regulations, which are at times extremely arbitrary and vague, actually mean and how they will affect the growing but struggling community of creators.
The primary mandate of UCC is to regulate the Communications sector, which includes telecommunications, broadcasting, radio communication, postal communications, data communication and infrastructure. It is not only the regulator, but is also charged with the facilitation and promotion of sustainable growth and development within Uganda's communications sector.
This new law is well within the mandate of the UCC, which stands to protect not only the consumers but also the producers of content. It is hard to see, however, how these new regulations as presented are anything but an attempt to stifle freedom and creative expression. This new regulation risks rendering virtually all digital communication a potential crime, which is not in any way beneficial to consumers or producers.
This legislation is bad news for the country and for its blossoming creative industries, which employ many young people in jobs with great potential, as well as paying taxes to the state and marketing Uganda to the world. By crippling these industries in the pursuit of a short-term goal, Uganda harms its long-term aim of achieving middle income status and fails in its duty to uphold the right to free expression of all Ugandans. As cultural operators, media practitioners and consumers we must work hard to protect our industries, and to fulfil our duty as citizens.
Register in advance for this meeting here.