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
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