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Stalemate puts journalists' jobs at risk, says union

By Ally Jamah | February 17th 2015

The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) has demanded a quick resolution to the stand-off between the Government and three major media houses that has resulted in four TV stations being switched off.

Speaking in Nairobi Monday, KUJ officials expressed concern that jobs of thousands of journalists may be at risk and Kenyans will lose their right to information if the stand-off continues.

This comes after the Information ministry and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) vowed not to go back on its decision to switch off KTN, NTV, Citizen TV and QTV that were broadcasting on the analogue platform.

On their part, media houses insist that they will not allow their content to be broadcast by third parties and have requested three months to bring their transmission equipment and free-to-air decoders before continuing to broadcast on the digital platform.

"We are certain that media houses cannot retain journalists for three months if they are not allowed to broadcast. We request an amicable solution, however temporary, that allows media houses to continue operating as they prepare to import their equipment," said KUJ Chairman Oscar Obonyo.

"We will petition the relevant Government agencies to ensure this issue is resolved as quickly as possible," he added.

KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor hinted that should the stand-off drag on, they may resort to legal action against the Ministry of Information and CA to compel them to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

"While we appreciate the importance of digital migration, we call upon the Government to listen to the cries of journalists who have been caught up in the crossfire," said Mr Oduor.

He explained that even other countries in Africa are still grappling with the digital migration process, adding that a specific law should have been enacted to guide the process to reduce unnecessary conflict.

"The Kenyan media has grown over the past two decades and we should not lose these gains. Kenya alongside South Africa and Nigeria have witnessed the growth of the media following enormous investments that have been put in," he said.

KUJ Organising Secretary John Atambo called for more involvement of journalists in the digital migration process.

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