Pay TV Disputes Copyright in Free-to-Air Broadcast: Appeal Case of Wananchi Group Uganda v. New Vision

Robert Kabushenga New Vision CEO Bukedde TV Zuku

This blogger has come across a recent ruling by Uganda’s Court of Appeal in the case of Wananchi Group (U) Ltd v. The New Vision Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd. The background of this case is as follows: New Vision had filed an application against Wananchi in the High Court for a temporary injunction seeking to restrain the Wananchi from further infringement of the New Vision’s copyright in the production, air transmission or broadcast of “Bukedde Television” through Wananchi’s Zuku Television.

In the High Court, New Vision contended that Wananchi continued to infringe on the New Vision’s copyright by retransmitting Bukedde TV for private benefit and for personal economic gain without the consent or licence of the owner despite express warning. The High Court agreed with New Vision and granted the order of a temporary injunction. This brings us to the present case of Wananchi’s application in Court of Appeal for an interim order of stay of execution of the order of the lower court.

In the Court of Appeal application, Wananchi submitted that since the injunction by the High Court was granted, there is a serious threat of execution wherein Bukedde TV signal will be switched off Zuku Television. Wananchi argued that its application should be granted so as to maintain the status quo and to preserve it’s rights in this matter. Wananchi stressed that if the interim order is not granted, the main application will be rendered nugatory. In reply, New Vision opposed the application and submitted that Zuku TV and Bukedde TV are both competitors in the same business working for economic gain.

In dismissing Wananchi’s application, Deputy Chief Justice Kavuma sitting in the Court of Appeal stated as follows:

“As to the existence of a serious threat of execution, I find that the Bukedde TV signal on Zuku TV has been off air since February 2013. No execution has ever been attempted since then. In the circumstances, I am not persuaded that there is now an eminent and serious danger of execution. In the result I find no merit in the application.”

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