The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the Broadcasting Council (BC) have been merged to form the Uganda Communications Authority (UCA) effective today, December 6.
UCA will be directed, in the interim, by Eng Godfrey Mutabazi who hitherto headed the Broadcasting Council.
The Authority’s interim board includes Dr Dorothy Okello, a senior lecturer in the faculty of computing and Informatics technology at Makerere University, Dr Omaswa Catherine, a healthcare practitioner and Maria Kiwanuka, the proprietor of Radio One and Radio Two.
Others are Eng Abdi Moding, Edgar Tabaro, a telecom lawyer, Eng Charles Lwanga, a representative from the ministry of Information Communications Technology, and Eng Miriam Kauma. The merger brings to fruition a process that began on April 24, 2007 when cabinet decided to merge the two in order to streamline regulation of the broadcasting and communications sector.
President Museveni had directed the two bodies to be merged by February 1, 2010 but this was slowed by the delay in drafting the Digital Migration Policy (DMP), which was only submitted to Cabinet for approval in September 2009.
The policy is supposed to oversee the transfer of all broadcasting services from analogue to digital formats, which the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has required all its member countries to effect by 2015.
The migration is essentially to ensure that all broadcasting services currently on the analogue networks are fully replicated on the digital networks. Digital formats have been hailed over analogue because they provide a reduced use of spectrum, have more capacity than analogue, boast a better-quality picture, and generally have lower operating costs after the initial upgrade costs.
The merger of these regulatory bodies is the best standard practice recommended by ITU. In East Africa, Uganda and Burundi were, until now, the only countries which still had separate regulators for broadcasting and communications.
The merging is also in step with the growing trend of converging technologies. Harmonised regulation, therefore, is important for such shared platforms as can be found on the web.