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Media Council warns against obscene content

By | March 21st 2012

By John Oywa

The Media Council of Kenya is tightening the noose on media houses flouting the code of ethics as the country prepares to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

The Council’s Chairman, Levy Obonyo, said they were monitoring the airwaves and had reprimanded media houses broadcasting content that threaten family values.

"We are asking media houses violating these provisions to stop or face the consequences. We must stop airing explicit materials during prime time because we have to protect the culture and the dignity of our people," he said.

Dr Obonyo said there have been complaints against some media houses that air obscene talk shows during prime time.

"Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution, but it comes with responsibility. Don’t violate the rights of other people," he said.

Obonyo spoke when he led a team from the council in discussions with The Standard Group Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Paul Melly at The Standard Group Centre on Tuesday.

The Council Chief Executive Officer Haron Mwangi and member Nelly Matheka accompanied him. The Standard Group Chief Operating Officer Sarvjit Channa, Executive Director-Value and Innovation Francis Munywoki and Chief Editor and Assistant Director John Bundotich were also present.

Mr Melly supported the council’s crackdown on journalists airing inappropriate programmes during prime time and asked the media industry to embrace self-regulation.

He also called for equitable distribution of media frequencies to ensure no particular media house owned more frequencies than the others.

"As we approach the World Media Freedom Day in May, I appeal to the Media Council to train and protect our journalists. We should improve on media freedom and media environment," he said.

Obonyo challenged the alternative media operating from the back streets to ‘come out in the open’ and register with the Government.

Alternative press

"The alternative Press or the gutter as some people call them should operate in the open. Nobody has stopped them from operating, but they should follow the law," he said.

He denied claims the council was toothless. "We can bite and we have done it, but our aim is not to drive the culprits out of the market," he explained.

Mr Mwangi said a three-day media convention, the first of its kind in Kenya, will be held from May 2 to mark the Press Freedom Day on May 3.

"It will be crowned with a gala night where we shall reward outstanding journalists," he said.

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