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MPs to grill minister on regulations

BUSINESS
By | January 15th 2010

By Maseme Machuka

A parliamentary committee has now summoned Information Minister Samuel Poghisio and PS Bitange Ndemo to explain the controversial broadcasting regulations.

The Departmental Committee on Energy and Communications wants the duo to clarify the regulations that have had the media and several groups accusing the Government of trying to gag the media.

Committee Chairman James Rege said they would grill them next week to help them know what may have gone wrong after a tripartite committee under Prime Minister Raila Odinga recommended the regulations withdrawn.

Speaking yesterday after a requiem Mass for the wife of Kasipul Kabondo MP Joseph Magwanga, Mr Rege said the House Clerk would be asked to invite the minister for questioning.

The Karachuonyo MP spoke as more MPs termed the regulations draconian and would take the country back to the olden days.

MPs John Mbadi, John Pesa, Fred Outa and Otieno Ogindo said press freedom as a right, should be jealously guarded.

Mr Mbadi termed the new regulations tantamount to controlling the media, which highlights key issues affect wananchi and helps put checks and balances on Government.

Mr Pesa said: "The House will not sit back and see Kenya regress to the dark ages. We have fought for this country and these freedoms should be jealously guarded."

Militant approaches

Mr Outa urged the minister to avoid militant approaches towards a free media and instead strengthen laws that preserve the freedoms.

Mr Ogindo said the flow of information should be protected to avoid reversing hard fought gains.

The media was sullen last weekend, after the gazettement of new regulations on broadcasting.

The State launched the fresh assault on the media without consultations with critical stakeholders.

Lawyers, media stakeholders and the public have termed the regulations unlawful and insisted they be repealed.

Dr Ndemo said the Kenya Communications (Broadcasting) Regulations 2009 took effect from January 1, this year.

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