The Media Council and Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) have entered into a partnership to jointly regulate the film industry in the country.
The two institutions both have functions related to managing the film industry but have previously worked independent of each other. However, a memorandum of understanding signed on Wednesday provides that they would share responsibility and resources to help streamline and develop the film and video industry in the country.
In a press statement of Thursday, the UCC said it would provide office space on its premises in Bugolobi to accommodate the staff of Media Council. The staff is expected to classify and censor films and videos to establish their appropriateness for audience viewing before they are showed to the public.
It explained that the move was intended to help promote development of the film industry and also protect the public from viewing undesirable content shown in places such as cinema and video halls scattered across the country.
The Uganda Communications Act 1997 allows the UCC to license cinematography theatre, video and film libraries. It also empowers the institution to regulate films, videos distribution and exhibition in Uganda.
Meanwhile, the Media Council through the Press and Journalist Act 2000 is mandated to censor films, videotapes, plays and other related materials meant for public consumption. Other functions of the Council are inspection of Media Houses all over the country to ensure that they conform to standards, and inspection of video halls across the country to ensure that films which are screened don’t corrupt morals of society. However, despite the many functions, the Council, which is currently operating from Postel Building where the Office of the Prime Minister is located, lacks clear source of funding often limiting its operations.
Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC Executive Director, has said the partnership would enable the authors of the films and video works to benefit from their creativity by eliminating piracy, a common practise in the industry.
Prof. Goretti Nassanga, Chairperson of the Media Council meanwhile emphasised that the move would strengthen the cooperation between the two institutions and help them better perform their core functions as regulatory agencies.
Besides providing office space to the staff of media Council for one year, the Memorandum of Understanding also requires UCC to buy the required censorship equipment, facilitate capacity building of their personnel and assist in opening up and managing of a film repository.
The partnership is expected to last one year.