Uganda’s telecoms regulator moves to regulate TV, radio adverts

Uganda's telecoms regulator moves to regulate TV, radio adverts
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi

Uganda’s telecommunications regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is currently engaging electronic media operators on the need to observe set advertising standards.

According to UCC, the advertising standards require that adverts should not exceed more than ten minutes within an hour on television and radio stations.

They also require broadcasters to ensure special care for sexual materials, deviational or supernatural and HIV/Aids related advertisement and also ensure that television advertising and teleshopping is readily recognizable and distinguishable from editorial content, exercise responsible judgement on the scheduling of advertisements to avoid error among other things.

However, the proposed enforcement of the advertisement time limit hasn’t gone down well with broadcasters. They say UCC shouldn’t be limiting the times an advert runs, except those that are harmful or require caution.

Last week, UCC had an engagement with the management and staff of Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) FM to discuss the implications and implementation of broadcasting and advertising standards governing the communications sector. However, this publication understands that the radio and the regulator failed to strike a compromise.

Ibrahim Bbosa, the Head of Public Relations UCC, says that although the standards have been there and clearly stipulated, media houses have failed observe them. Bbosa says that apart from the 10 minutes advertisement requirement, several other standards have been breached. He says they are currently discussing with media houses to enforce the standards.

“People have had concern and specific questions. CBS [radio] has had a very powerful and big statement of birango (death announcements). Now, initially when the standard was made, birangos were not given special considerations but through the National Association of Broadcasters and Media Owners Association they put a very strong emphasis which was a contribution that birango are different from adverts. Usually a person putting birango doesn’t derive economic value from it. You’re basically announcing somebody who is dead and in effect a new section was introduced on birango,” Bbosa said.

He says as UCC, they haven’t been enforcing the standards on advertising since the Ugandan media industry is still young. Kin Kariisa, the chairperson of the National Broadcasters Association, says indeed media houses need to follow standards. He however, says media houses are still discussing the issues of limiting adverts to ten minutes in a broadcasting clock.

He admits that although the standards exist, media houses haven’t been following them, adding that the most important thing is that broadcasters avoid harmful and misleading adverts.

The operations manager of CBS, Abbey Mukiibi declined to comment on the matter, saying he wasn’t ready to speak about their discussions.

URN