CS Owalo: State to pay media houses Sh1b advertising arrears

ICT CS Eliud Owalo. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Media players have welcomed an announcement by the government that it will pay the Sh1.1 billion it owes media outlets.

Communication and Digital Economy CS Eliud Owalo said the government will soon offset the debts.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Acting Director of Government Advertising Agency Gwaro Ogaro during an editors' meeting in Diani, Kwale County, Owalo said the government remains committed to clear all pending bills.

Media firms have been facing cash flow challenges due to billions of shillings owed to them by advertisers, key among them the State. 

The financial difficulties have forced some to retrench staff and engage in massive budget cuts.

Kenya Editors Guild President Churchil Otieno said media houses were facing challenging times.

‘’We have to recalibrate and come up with what works for our audience to attract more readers and viewership,’’ he said. Otieno said that he was optimistic the new government will play its role in delivering its mandate and ensuring businesses thrive.

He expressed optimism that the new government will forge a closer relationship with the media industry.

‘’We have held fruitful discussions with the CS who has robust ideas that will lead to the industry’s growth and coexistence of media and the government,’’ Otieno said.

Publisher of the African Shipping Review magazine George Sungu said the government’s announcement that it will pay media houses was timely.

“We have seen several journalists being laid off. Other media firms are on the verge of closing down due to poor business trends,” Sungu said.

Sunguh, also the Secretary General of the Africa Maritime Journalists Association, said once paid, there will be sufficient cash flow to run operations in media houses.

He said despite problems facing the media today, there’s hope that the sector will come out strong.

‘’The current scenarios should not spell doom for the media sector and should not be used as a yardstick to determine the future of Kenyan media,’’ he said.