Rural Broadcasters Rap Govt On Free Airtime Allocation

RUBA stakeholders led by the Chairman Julius Tumusiime addressing the media on Thursday

RUBA stakeholders led by Chairperson Julius Tumusiime addressing the media on Thursday

Kampala | RedPepper Digital – Rural Broadcasters Association of Uganda (RUBA); an umbrella body that brings together rural broadcasters from all the 18 regions of Uganda on Friday challenged the free airtime allocated to government (GOU) programs aired on their stations.

Through their founding chairman Julius Tumusiime the association says that the free allocation of airtime should be reduced to national events like Presidential addresses and emergencies in regards to security and disaster preparedness.

“We, for example, are required to give GOU free airtime daily with complete disregard of our commercial interests. Ministries, Departments and Agencies cut their budgets for upcountry media as a result of this. That the government one-hour free airtime is scrapped off completely and should be used for only National address and emergencies in regards to security and disaster preparedness,” Tumusiime said.  The association made the call on Thursday, September 16, while addressing journalists at Speke Hotel in Kampala.

The Association also wants the government programs to be aired once in a month not weekly as earlier indicated by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) because it becomes costly on their side.

RUBA also noted that they held a meeting with Speaker in the 10th parliament Rebecca Kadaga and they made their grievances known to her at the time, especially how they acted as donors to government and yet they are private business entities whose aim is to make profit.

The association also wants Parliament to appropriate a budget line for Rural Broadcasters to enable them continue to meet their obligations as a business.

In the letter that was purportedly written by the Uganda performing rights society (UPRS) to the URSB Registrar General to register all copyrights in Uganda including artists so as to pay artistes loyalties as regards to their music, Tumusiime said that most Ugandan artiste are not aware of the copyright law and sensitization needs to be done by the rural broadcasters before it coming into effect under UPRS.

They conclusively called for the stay of the implementation of the royalties by UCC and UPRS. They further appealed to the Commission not to make it a licensing condition.

 ”Call for Immediate stay of Implementation of the payment of royalties by UCC and UPRS, and that the stakeholders should be mindful of the jurisdiction in which they operate and not impose conditions that will curtail growth of the arts industry,” said Tumusiime.

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