Kenya - Public Broadcasting In Africa (AfriMAP 2011)

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Kenya’s liberalisation of the airwaves since the mind-1990s has resulted in the transformation of broadcasting with numerous stations now serving as a platform for information and public debate. This has promoted a culture of participation in the democratic process, and has impacted positively toward good governance. However, the report, written by Grace Githaiga, does argue the need for media laws and regulations on the statute books to align with the country’s new constitution; top amongst which, is the urgent need for a new Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Act. The report provides evidence showing that KBC is both by law and practice, controlled by government, and is used largely to promote the interest of government alone. This, the report further states, goes against the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa, which espouses for state broadcasters to be transformed into public broadcasters, independent of government and free from political and economic manipulation.

Text of Kenya - Public Broadcasting In Africa (AfriMAP 2011)

Public broAdcAsting in AfricA series

KenyaA survey by the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) Open Society Media Program (OSMP)

Open Society Foundations 2011 This publication is available as a pdf on the Open Society Foundations website or the AfriMAP website under a Creative Commons licence that allows copying and distributing the publication, only in its entirety, as long as it is attributed to the Open Society Foundations and used for noncommercial educational or public policy purposes. Photographs may not be used separately from the publication. Written by: Grace Githaiga (researcher), Jeanette Minnie and Hendrik Bussiek (editors) Published by: Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa ISBN: 978-1-920489-20-5 For more information contact: AfriMAP PO Box 678 Wits, 2050 Johannesburg South Africa OSIEA PO box 2193 Nairobi, 00202 Kenya Design and lay-out by COMPRESS.dsl |

ContentsAcronyms Foreword Introduction v vii ix


Country Facts1 2 3 4 5 6 Historical background Government and political structures Basic socio-economic data Main challenges Media and communication landscape Brief history of broadcasting

11 3 5 6 7 11


Media Legislation and Regulation1 2 3 4 5 International, continental and regional standards The Constitution of Kenya General media laws and regulations Other laws with an impact on media and freedom of expression Conclusions and recommendations

1313 18 21 27 29


The Broadcasting Landscape1 2 3 4 5 6 The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Commercial broadcasters Community and other forms of broadcasting Technical standard and accessibility of services Concentration of media ownership Conclusions and recommendations

3232 33 38 41 42 44


Digitalisation and its Impact1 2 3 4 Preparedness for switch-over within government and the industry Preparedness for switch-over on the part of consumers Increased competition Conclusions and recommendations

4647 48 50 51




Broadcasting Legislation and Regulation1 2 3 4 The Communications Commission of Kenya Licensing of broadcasters and enforcement of licence conditions Complaints and conflict resolution Conclusions and recommendations

5353 57 65 65


The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation: Overview1 2 3 4 Legislation Profile of the KBC Organisational structures and staff Conclusions and recommendations

6969 72 75 78


Funding of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation1 2 3 Main sources of funding Spending Conclusions and recommendations

8181 84 84


Programming1 2 3 4 5 6 Programme policies and guidelines Programme schedules News and current affairs Comparison of state and commercial broadcasters Feedback and complaints procedures Conclusions and recommendations

8787 91 97 101 105 105


Broadcasting Reform Efforts1 2 3 Perceptions of the KBC Current reform efforts Conclusions and recommendations

108108 111 112


Overall Conclusions and Recommendations




AcronymsACHPR AKFED AMB AU BBC CCK CNN DP DSTV EAC EATV ECK EU FKE FORD GDP ICCK ICCPR IPPG ITU KANU KBC KES KICT KNA KTN MCK MOA NARC NMG NOFBI NTV OAU ODM PNU RMS African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights Aga Khan Foundation for Economic Development African Media Barometer African Union British Broadcasting Corporation Communications Commission of Kenya Cable News Network Democratic Party of Kenya Digital Satellite Television East African Community East African Television Electoral Commission of Kenya European Union Federation of Kenya Employers Forum for the Restoration of Democracy gross domestic product Independent Communications Commission of Kenya International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Inter Parties Parliamentary Group International Telecommunications Union Kenyan African National Union Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Kenya Shilling Kenya Information Communication Technology Kenya News Agency Kenya Television Network Media Council of Kenya Media Owners Association National Rainbow Coalition Nation Media Group National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure Nation TV Organisation of African Unity Orange Democratic Movement Party of National Unity Royal Media Services




Standard Group Limited set-top boxes United Nations United Nations Development Programme United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Voice of Kenya


The report is the result of research that started in 2008 with the aim of collecting, collating and writing up information about regulation, ownership, access, performance as well as prospects for public broadcasting reform in Africa. The Kenya report is part of an eleven-country survey of African broadcast media. The main reason for conducting the research is to contribute to Africas democratic consolidation. Many African countries have made significant gains in building democratic systems of governance that are based on popular control of decision-making and in which citizens are treated as equals. Availability and access to information by a greater number of citizens is a critical part of a functioning democracy and a countrys development. The role of a public broadcaster as a vehicle through which objective information and diverse perspectives are transmitted into the public domain cannot be overstated. A number of countries are currently undertaking public broadcasting reforms that aim to improve service delivery and accountability to citizens. Such reforms draw from evolving African and global standards regarding media and broadcast media in particular. The survey instrument that was developed in consultation with media experts from Africa and other parts of the world is largely based on agreements, conventions, charters and declarations regarding media that have been developed at regional and continental levels in Africa. The survey of broadcast media in Africa was initiated by two projects of the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) and the Open Society Media Program, working with the African members of the Soros foundation network in East Africa, the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA). The research was carried out by Grace Githaiga, a media researcher with special interest in broadcasting and ICT, based in Nairobi/Kenya. The report was co-edited by Jeanette Minnie, an international freedom of expression and media consultant, and Hendrik Bussiek, a media consultant with extensive broadcasting experience in Africa and globally, who is the editor-in-chief of the project.



It is our hope that the research will clear some of the misconceptions about public broadcasters. In its simplest definition a public broadcasting service is a broadcaster that serves the public as a whole and is accountable to the public as a whole. Yet in most instances what is referred to as a public broadcaster is in fact a state broadcaster. This research aims to help the process of aiding the transformation of Africas public broadcasters into media worthy of the name. Ozias Tungwarara Director, AfriMAP


The survey on public broadcasting in Africa starts from the premise that development and democracy cannot thrive without open and free public space where all issues concerning peoples lives can be aired and debated and which gives them room and opportunity to participate in decision-making. Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen describes democracy as governance by dialogue and broadcasters are ideally placed to facilitate this dialogue by providing the space for it if their services are accessible, independent, credible and open to the full spectrum of diverse views. Following from this premise, the key objective of the survey is to assess whether and to what extent the various forms of broadcasting on our continent can and do create such a free public space, with special attention given to those services which call themselves public. A total of eleven country reports look closely at the current status of broadcasting in Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. While this survey may be unprecedented in its scope and depth, it does feed into ongoing discussions among broadcasters, civil society and politicians in Africa on the nature and mandate of genuine public broadcasting. Reform efforts are under way in a number of countries. And at least on paper there is already broad consensus on the need to open up the airwaves to commercial and community broadcasters and for state broadcasters to be transformed into truly public broadcasting services. The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Unions Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in 2002, for example, says a State monopoly over broadcasting is not compatible with the right to freedom of expression and demands that state and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters accountable to the public. This document and other regional policy declarations serve as major benchmarks for this survey. In particular, these African documents inform the vision and mandate of public



broadcasting as understood in this study.1 This vision can be summarised as follows: to serve the overall public interest and be accountable to all strata of so