A number of government institutions have come together to enforce legal obligations and standards in the film industry, giving those involved two months to clean up their act or face the music.
At a joint sensitization workshop held at Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) offices on 01 August 2019, the Media Council, Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), UCC, Uganda Police and the Pornographic Control Committee (PCC) wowed to streamline the industry, which is bedeviled by piracy, pornography and copyright infringement, among other challenges.
The half-day workshop, which was attended by hundreds of film industry players, ended with the symbolic burning of pornographic CDs, with stakeholders vowing to crack down on such illicit stuff.
The stakeholders’ workshop on the development and regulation of the film industry in Uganda targeted video halls, cinemas, video libraries and film publishers, among others.
Its goal was to raise awareness on the standards and laws that govern the film sector, especially regarding production, distribution, exhibition, classification as well the protection and enforcement of copyright.
Opening the workshop, the UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi said it was an opportunity for the participants to get to know the legal requirements and standards, and abide by them.
“The above government agencies have agreed to commence joint enforcement of all the legal requirements and industry standards by 1st October 2019, thus giving you two months to put your affairs or businesses in order,” he announced.
“As government agencies, we are sending a strong message that signals the end of malpractices like piracy and unregulated business practices that have been hindering the growth of the film industry,” Mutabazi added.
The UCC Executive Director noted that the film and creative industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Uganda and has unrivaled potential “to provide employment opportunities to many youths, boost the economy due to its revenue earnings, and above all promote and preserve our culture and heritage.”
In his speech, the chief guest Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Rev Fr Simon Lokodo thanked UCC for working with other government institutions to make the workshop and the symbolic burning of pornographic materials a reality.
He thanked members of the film industry for turning up in big numbers, which he said was a demonstration of their patriotism.
Responding to a complaint about the government’s contribution to the industry, Lokodo advised the participants to get organized and then approach the government, which he said is very responsive.
“Please group up and I am here to take your association to where money can be got,” he said.
According to ED Mutabazi, UCC has undertaken several initiatives aimed at increasing local content such as setting local content quotas on TV stations and organizing the Uganda Film Festival.
“The Commission in 2013 developed a licensing framework as mandated under Section 37 of the Uganda Communications Act, with the aim of streamlining the production, distribution and exhibition of local content. We are aware that this could not be done in isolation of other laws or mandates administered by other government agencies,” he said.
Highlighting the challenges facing the sector, Mutabazi mentioned “disparate, uncoordinated frameworks of the legal instruments of regulation and unwillingness by film stakeholders to comply with the set standards hampers the industry.”
Earlier, Fred Otunnu, the Corporate Affairs Director, said UCC believes the kind of constructive engagement displayed in the workshop is the way forward. “We are your partners, colleagues and wish you well in what you do,” he said.
Participating government institutions made presentations, enhancing awareness about their role in the development of the film sector. Participants freely engaged the government representatives, asking questions that their hosts were happy to answer.
A snack was served at the end of what appeared to be a fruitful engagement.