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Media wary of new legislation

23 October 2013, 14:47

Nairobi - Media practitioners fear two controversial bills that the National Assembly is scheduled to discuss and possibly pass into law could curtail media freedom in the country.

Parliament was on Wednesday scheduled to deliberate on the Kenya Information and Communication Acts Bill 2013(KICA) and the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) Bill 2013 amid concern by the media fraternity as the instruments empower governments to regulate broadcast content and close down any media it deems non-compliant.

The establishment of the Broadcasting Standard Committee under section 6E of the KICA Bill 2013 that would be tasked with developing standards for broadcast content and monitoring adherence to same regulations is reminiscent of the events in the country during single state media The Voice of Kenya, which was the sole company in broadcasting.

The committee’s establishment is viewed as transfer of power from the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) to the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK).

The MCK was responsible for regulating professional standards and ethical reporting.

“We want all matters of regulation of professional ethics and the conduct of journalists and the media enterprises to be the sole preserve of the Media Council of Kenya,” a joint  statement from the media fraternity comprising the encompass the Media Owners Association, Kenya Editors’ Guild, Kenya Union of Journalists and the Kenya Correspondents Association, read.

Media freedom campaigner, Henry Maina, argued that “the CCK ought to limit itself to matters of regulation of broadcasting licenses, signal distribution with a view to achieve equity, and not meddle in matters of regulation of media content.”

He argued the regulation of broadcast content as an attempt by government to gag the media.

– CAJ News


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