Thursday, August 23, 2012

Uganda: MPs to Review Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) Digital Monopoly

Parliament is seeking to review a digital migration policy provision that had given a signal distribution monopoly to the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).

Approved by Cabinet in April 2011, the policy framework was established to ensure a well-regulated and smooth transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, a global mandatory move as per the 2006 Geneva Radio Communications Conference.

The policy provided for the licensing of competent signal distributors that would control broadcasters, but it allowed UBC a five-year monopoly as distributor, a move other broadcasters protested.

New Vision has established that the public protests against the move to favour UBC has forced parliamentarians into considering a review of the policy and open up for other companies to compete for the signal distribution deal.

Nyombi Tembo, the ICT state minister, confirmed that MPs yielded to the expression of public discontentment and decided to undertake that policy review.

"Yes, I can confirm that the ICT parliamentary committee is also in support of a policy review after we were advised against moving with UBC as the only signal distributor. But for the time being, we shall need only one other company to work as a competitor with UBC," he said.

The development means that broadcasters will have options to choose the distributor they find competent enough to serve them.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) mounted pressure on the Government, urging that the creation of monopolies would compromise the quality of service delivery in addition to being out of fashion as far as the modern way of nurturing investments is concerned.

NAB also doubted UBC's technical capacity to handle the advanced technology required to successfully support the broadcasting industry into the digital era.

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