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House team gives Media Council of Kenya more power in report

By Alphonce Shiundu and Roselyne Obala

Nairobi, Kenya: The House Committee on Energy, Information and Communication has clipped the powers of the Cabinet Secretary when it comes to making regulations on the powers of the Media Council.

In their report, the MPs said the autonomy for the media to regulate itself was in line with the Constitution because it “ensures self-regulation of the media.”

The MPs have also denied the Cabinet Secretary the power to make regulations for the Media Council. Instead, they say that Parliament will have the monopoly to set the code of conduct for journalists.

“It is the legitimate role of the National Assembly to amend any existing law and this role cannot be exercised by any other authority,” the committee report noted.

Media Council

The MPs went ahead and pushed to have former politicians allowed to chair the Media Council.

They said, the clause that prohibits those who had served in politics from being appointed to the Media Council, should be deleted, because it barred politicians from “engaging in meaningful and gainful employment after active politics.”

“The committee is of the opinion that politicians should also be considered as professionals who can give leadership in any public body, commission or council,” read the report tabled in the House yesterday by the committee chairman Jamleck Kamau

The MPs also proposed a separate body that will supervise the Media Council and the Communications Authority of Kenya. The body will handle all complaints against the media.

They said this body will guarantee the independence of the Media Council and the Communications Authority of Kenya when it comes to handling complaints against media houses and individual journalists.

The membership of this third body, its mandate, how the members will be picked and its modus operandi is yet unknown. It will be presented to the House at the Committee stage when amendments will be made to the bill.

Prefect journalists

The committee report came on the day that the Media Council asked MPs to ensure the council retains the monopoly to prefect journalists and media houses on the content of broadcasts and news.

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