FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Questions about Registration Journalists
- Question: Why should journalists register with the Media Council of Uganda?
Answer: It is a requirement under the Press and Journalist Act, Cap. 105. Any journalist who contravenes the relevant section of the law commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred thousand shillings, and in case of failure to pay the fine, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months.
- Question: What do journalists benefit by registering with the Media Council of Uganda?
Answer: a) It helps them to access information by allowing participation in conferences, workshops, trainings other gatherings and any other sources of information;
- b) It enhances the protection of their rights and enjoyment of privileges in the performance of their duties; and
- c) It magnifies Journalism as a profession.
Questions about Film Classification
- Question: When do I need to get an age rating for my film?
Answer: Video works (films, TV programmes, music videos, trailers, adverts/ posters, etc) which are to be released locally or imported into Uganda need to be rated. All videos issued with an age rating under the Media Council of Uganda are also automatically issued with a digital age rating that can be used on digital video services.
- Question: What can/can’t I submit?
Answer: You can submit video works on DVD/VCD or Blu-ray. Please note the content should be the same as the version that will be released to the public.
- Question: How do I submit my work?
Answer: Make an entry on our website www.mediacouncil.go.ug by downloading an application form or visit our offices on Communications House, Plot No. 1, Colville Street, 3rd Floor, Suite 305 to pick one.
- Question: What fees are required for the various services offered by Media Council?
Answer: a) Classifying local films (0-120min) UGX150,000
b) Classifying foreign films (0-120min) USD150
- c) Classifying each additional minute (Local films) UGX2,000
- d) Classifying each additional minute (Foreign films) USD5
- e) Classification Certificate (Local films) UGX20,000
f) Classification Certificate (Foreign films) USD50
g) Re-classification fees
- h) Cancellation or withdrawal or works fees
i) Reactivate title withdrawn fees
- j) Interpreter fees
- k) Advertising on the Media Council website fees
- l) Uploading a trailer on the Media Council website fees
- m) Express classification fees
Note: All works will be received upon receipt of payment. Payment made in cheques will take a little bit longer as your work will be accepted only when the cheque is cleared.
- Question: Is there anything else I need to consider?
All works must be submitted on DVD or VCD (3 Copies). It should be noted that each DVD must be a complete film in its own right. Media Council will take into account the fact that each item of packaging is a separate entity and, therefore, has a separate context.
Cinema staff should schedule for previews before screening their films.
Proof that the work you are submitting is actually yours.
Confirmation of authorization to use other peoples works in a given product.
A three-line summary of your video work(s).
- Designed DVD Jackets
The jacket should bear the title of the film, brief synopsis, year of production, the name of the director and other relevant technical crew, names of distributors and the format. Works wrapped in polythene bags or sleeves or works that are not well labeled will not be accepted as this format does not support our filing/storage system.
- Publicity material/posters
All publicity materials must be submitted for classification.
Each film must be submitted with a trailer.
- Classification labels
Each rated film must carry a classification rating label approved by Media Council.
- Question: Who decides if a work is exempt from classification?
Answer: Only Court may decide. Meanwhile decisions as to whether a work falls into one of the exempt categories or includes material that loses the exemption can only be made by the distributor or supplier. Media Council’s role is purely to rate works submitted to it. It has no authority to make any decision about whether submitted works could be exempt.
- Question: Does it matter if I submit a work to Media Council which might be exempt?
Answer: No. Media Council will accept submissions of material which may be exempt. Exempt works are sometimes rated because the distributor prefers a rating. Our categories and symbols are familiar and trusted by the public and enjoy the support of the law.
- Question: What about works already classified elsewhere or shown on TV?
Answer: Once transferred to a disc, magnetic tape or any other device capable of storing data electronically for distribution or broadcasting, works are considered to be different from the same material broadcast on television. TV regulation is different from classification regulation and, by law, a new decision has to be made. Any classification decisions made anywhere else in the world are similarly irrelevant. It has also to be borne in mind that the version for release as a video work may not always be the same as that shown on TV here or seen in other countries.
- Question: What happens if a work which should be classified is not?
Answer: Law enforcers are there to do their job. Their role is to visit stores and inspect the stock and to check that no unclassified works are being sold or rented and that all other details of relevant legislation are being observed. They will take an ‘exempt’ work from a shop if they doubt its exempt status. If, on inspecting that work, they reach the conclusion that it should have been classified, the distributor could be prosecuted.
- Question: Can I be exempt from paying classification fees?
Answer: Even if a work itself is not exempt, it is possible that its supply is. An exempt supply is one which is neither ‘a supply for reward’ nor ‘in the course or furtherance of a business’. So, if there is no reward (e.g. exchange of money) associated in any way with the transaction, and as long as the supply is entirely unrelated to any business activity, the supply could be considered exempt. This would not be the case, for instance, if videos were being lent or given away to attract customers to a shop, even one whose actual business was unrelated to video.
There are other circumstances in which a supply can be considered exempt, such as the record of an event which is to be circulated only to those connected with the event such as a wedding video, festival/exhibition, government and embassy/mission agency works e.g awareness programmes. Further advice on exempt video works may be obtained from our offices.
- Question: On labeling
Answer: For DVD packaging, the rating symbol must be shown on one of the largest faces (normally front cover), the spine (except if it is less than 2cm) and on another of the largest faces or another face other than the spine which includes the explanatory statement within a rectangle (normally back cover).
- Question: How can I justify the rating of my work?
Answer: A member of the technical crew will be invited at our preview session although no discussion of a rating will take place. However, the crew will have the opportunity to discuss the technical aspects of the film. After classification, each film submitted for classification will be issued with a classification certificate. This could be an approval, a referral or a rejection. To a certain extent, a film may be banned if it breaches the law or violates the moral fabric of society.
- Question: Who takes classification decisions?
Answer: Films are normally previewed by three examiners and ratified by a senior examiner. However, if a film is complex, the classification office seeks specialist advice from concerned organizations before a decision is made.
- 14. Question: Do I have a right to appeal against a classification decision?
Answer: Yes: Media Council offers a formal ‘reconsideration’ procedure which is open to any distributor or film maker dissatisfied with the classification of their work. The reconsideration is at the expense of the petitioner. Distributors should note that reviews or an appeal involves looking at the issues afresh. This means that the outcome could, in some circumstances, be more restrictive than the original determination. If still not satisfied, the appellant may proceed to the courts of law.
- 15. Question: How long does the classification process take?
Answer: Work submitted for classification must be completed within 30 working days of a calendar month. However, the classification office aims to complete work within a shorter time depending on urgency.
- 16. Question: How much does law enforcement cost?
Answer: The cost is on the state and nothing directly to you. We carry out this work as part of our law enforcement role, as designated by the Coordinating Working Group
- General Guidelines
Areas to avoid or treat with care while submitting a film
a) Sexual violence and threats of sexual violence.
- b) Juxtaposition of nudity and violence.
- c) Strong and realistic threats to defenseless victims
d) Torture, excessive gore and details of strong violence.
e) Excessive blood – especially on real, contemporary weapons.
f) Glamorisation of real, contemporary weapons or acts such as drug abuse.
g) Overt sexual activity e.g. homosexuality.
h) Vulgar nudity and strong sexual references.
i) Text that promises brutality, torture, sexual violence, or humiliation and exploitation of children.
j) Content that abuses or compromises national security and generally acceptable social norms.
Media Council is not an enforcement agency but we would be failing in our duty as a semi-statutory body responsible for classification if we took no action in relation to instances which come to our attention regarding the illegal supply of video works.
Trading Standards and law enforcement officers have the power to seize illegal video works including, but not limited to, DVDs and any related apparatus. Media Council has been designed to provide evidence to help secure convictions under the Law. Media Council can also assist the Police in cases of film ratings’ non-compliance.
- Using Media Council ratings and symbols
Media Council age ratings (text and symbols) are identifiable, understandable, trusted and consistent in their application and meaning. Using them allows viewers to make safe, informed decisions about the content they choose for themselves and their family.
- Technical requirements
All works submitted to Media Council for classification should be the full, final edit in the correct format screen ratio with final sound mix. All moving footage must be classified including multiple versions of a feature e.g. director’s cut, audio commentary etc and any bonus content or moving menus that will form part of a final product.