November 19, 2017

No ownership caps yet in Rwanda broadcast sector

KIGALI, APRIL 30 – Rwanda’s media sector cannot be closed to foreign participation at this point because it still needs investment to take it to the next level, says Mr. Tony Kulamba, the Spokesperson and Director for Consumer Affairs at the Rwanda Utilities Authority, RURA.

Mr.  Kulamba was responding to broadcaster’s questions over rumours that have been swirling around Kigali to the effect that ownership of media houses would have to be reconstituted to reflect a majority ownership by Rwandan citizens.

“That is not true. Even during recent reviews of the broadcast law, the clause on ownership was not tampered with because we believe that to achieve the quality benchmarks and diversity, the sector still requires a lot of investment which among other sources can come through foreign participation,” he said April 24, during the second consultative meeting with broadcasters meeting on proposed amendments to the broadcast law.

Among other proposals, the validity of the TV broadcast licence will now be valid for a period of 5 years from 6 months, saving proprietors’ time but also making it easier for investors to access bank finance on better terms.

License fees will also be harmonised around the licence period with Public Radio Broadcasters and Private National Broadcasters paying 3 million Rwandan francs for a period of five years while Regional Private Radios will pay 2 million Rwandan francs and Community Radio’s 1.5 million Rwandan francs for the same period.

Correspondingly, free to air television broadcasters will pay Rwf 6 million for a five year licence while Terrestrial Subscription and Cable Subscription TV broadcasters will pay Rwf 10 million and 5 million respectively.

Under the law, a national radio station is defined as one using a minimum of 4 transmitters and multiple gap-fillers, a regional broadcaster uses 3 transmitters while a community radio is one with one transmitter with a maximum power of 500 watts.

The proposed changes also centralise the licence process around RURA with the authority to broadcast previously issued by the Media High Council now vested in RURA.

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