State switches on TV stations, Citizen TV remains shut

The Government switched on TV stations on Monday.

KTN News and NTV are back on air after the directive.

Citizen TV and Inooro TV are , however, yet to be reinstated.

The switch on came hours after Activist Okiya Omtatah filed contempt proceedings against Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, ICT CS Joe Mucheru and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) board on Monday.

Omtatah sued the Government officials for failure to comply with court orders requiring them to restore the stations.

The activist further wants the court to castigate PSs Kamau Thugge, Karanja Kibicho, Sam Itemere and the entire Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) board.

"I verily believe that in regard to the continuing violation and threats to the Constitution, it is of utmost importance and urgency that the violations of the Constitution are stopped. They have substantially undermined the cause of justice in the instant proceedings,” Omtatah argued.

KTN News, NTV, Citizen TV, Inooro TV and Radio Citizen were switched off on Tuesday, January 30 for airing the ‘swearing in’ of the National Super Alliance (NASA) leader, Raila Odinga.




On Friday, Omtatah claimed that police blocked him from accessing the CA Headquarters in Nairobi.

He alleged security officers denied him entry into CA to serve the authority with court orders suspending the media shutdown.

Omtata filed a petition on Thursday (February 1, 2018) to overturn the State’s directive that led to switching off Kenya’s leading TV stations, arguing the move was contravening the Constitution.

Omtata’s petition highlighted an argument that the Government’s directive was in utter violations of Article 33 and 34 of the Constitution, which guarantee media freedom and access to information.

The activist sought to convince the court to compensate the affected media houses for losses incurred following the shutdown.

In the argument, the petition is of the view that both consumers of the content as well as media houses have had their rights repudiated following the implementation of the order.

The petition partly read:

“Without warning and without giving any reasons, in the morning of 30th January, 2018, the Respondents switched off (shut down) free to air transmission on television channels owned by the first to third interested parties.”

He emphasized that freedom of speech and access to information is provided in the Constitution and cannot be limited through unconstitutional means.

The High Court suspended the shut down last week.

Judge Chacha Mwita ordered CA to restore live transmission for the stations.

He also barred the State from interfering with the signals of the various TV stations.

In a press briefing on Wednesday (January 31, 2018), Matiang’i maintained that the switch-off of the media houses would remain in place until investigations into NASA’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) activities had been concluded.

“Media owners and all relevant actors had been given a full security situation brief well ahead of the illegal activities of NASA. Unfortunately, some media houses chose to disregard this advice, their own code of ethics, self- regulations and moral responsibility to every Kenyan to safeguard security of their fellow citizens,” the CS stated at Harambee House, Nairobi.

The former Education CS further noted that coverage by the media would have led to incitement and a ‘massacre of catastrophic proportions’ was going to happen.

“The Government’s responsibility is to protect the lives of people. We are committed to the rule of law,” Matiang’i said.