Dennis Itumbi reports for Journalism.co.uk from Nairobi on the media in Kenya:
The Kenyan Government has bowed to pressure from media owners and dropped plans to outlaw cross-media ownership and endorse the invasion of broadcasting stations.
New laws tabled in parliament by Samuel Poghisio, Kenya’s Information and Communications Minister, suggest the controversial clauses have been removed from the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008.
The removed clauses made it illegal to own a broadcast station and newspaper at the same time.
However, the new bill emphasises the growth of local programming at local stations. ‘The Kenyan identity has to be maintained throughout the programming and enhanced quantity of such programmes should be aired,’ it states.
At one time former minister Raphael Tuju, who now chairs the Ethnic and Race Relations committee in the Office of the President, demanded that local stations’ output was at least 40 per cent local content – no station complied. However, stations have recently been increasing local production across the country.
The new bill strips the Minister for Internal Security of proposed powers to invade ‘rogue stations’ and seeks to elevate the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) into a fully fledged information and communications regulator. If passed, the bill would empower the CCK to license and regulate broadcasting services.
The new proposals sailed through the first reading in parliament on Monday.