Uganda: TV Stations Face Closure Over Fees

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The Uganda Broadcasting Council has threatened to close 32 television and FM radio stations over defaulting on licence fees. Kagole Kivumbi, the council's secretary, said the two-week notice that expires on February 9, is intended to give an opportunity to the affected stations to pay-up.

He said some of the affected stations had failed to start operations in the stipulated one year after being awarded a licence. Some of the affected stations include Mama FM, NBS TV, Voice of Toro, TV WA and Radio France Internationale.

The Mama FM director, Margaret Ssentamu, said they were left with a balance of sh1m of the required sh3m. "We are donor-funded and the donors want the Government to subsidise community radio stations as they promote development," said Ssentamu. She regretted that community radio stations pay about sh6m a year, of which sh3m is for licence, on top of $700 to the Uganda Communications Commission and another sh1m for a trading licence.

TV stations in Kampala pay sh5m and those operating in rural areas pay sh1m. Kivumbi said there are 205 FM stations and 25 television operating stations in the country.

New Vision Kampala 27 January 2009