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60 per cent local content rule draws mixed reaction

NEWS
By Ally Jamah | March 11th 2015
Mshamba Zebedayo, a KTN comedian. CAK figures show current local content ranges between 18 and 38 per cent      [ PHOTO BY STANDARD]

Kenya: Stakeholders have begun debate on key regulations that will determine how the Communications Authority of Kenya governs the Broadcasting and ICT sector in the country.

Among the key areas that have attracted attention in the proposed new regulations include the CAK proposal to increase requirement for local content in local broadcasters from the current 30 per cent to 60 per cent.

This proposal, contained in the Broadcasting regulations, has stirred heated debate as some stakeholders term the provision too high.

CAK Director General, Francis Wangusi, said that local broadcasters can achieve the 60 per cent local content as proposed in the regulation but said it was up to stakeholders to make counter-proposals.

“The 60 per cent was a policy decision that was taken by the Ministry of Information but we will see how stakeholders, including industry players view this idea. We believe it is achievable,” he said yesterday in a Nairobi hotel during the stakeholder’s meeting.

Local broadcasters have argued that news programming including commentary shows should be considered as local content within the definition of the regulation, a proposal that is yet to be adopted by CAK.

According to recent CAK figures, local content ranges from as low as 18 per cent up to 38 per cent, meaning that most broadcasters have not even achieved the minimum 30 per cent contained in the previous regulations that are now under review.

 “Since the demand for local content is high, it makes business sense for local broadcasters to enhance their local content and remain relevant in the market,” said Wangusi.

However Kevin Omondi, a Broadcasting and ICT expert based in Nairobi said that broadcasters in the country should be free to air their own content, whether local or foreign and consumers allowed to be their judge, instead of imposing regulations.

“This is a free market which should be allowed to operate without interference provided the broadcasters do not violate established laws such as airing pornography or glorifying criminality,” he said.

"If the consumer demand for local content is high, then the broadcasters will be compelled by market demands to offer more local content, but they should not be compelled by the law. Let the market evolve itself.” Other regulations to be discussed include those that touch on tariffs, fair competition and equality of treatment, licensing and quality of service, universal access, consumer protection, postal and courier services.

 

Regulations governing importation type approvals, compliance, monitoring as well as radio-communication and frequency spectrum will be discussed. They all total to 14 regulations.

Principal Secretary in the Information Ministry, Joseph Ole Tiampati, said he expects the regulations to be gazetted by June this year after views of stakeholders have been incorporated. “The regulations should be drafted in such a way that they increase value to the ICT industry, investors, consumers and the security off the country,” he said.

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