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Media Council bill ‘unconstitutional’

By Letters | October 22nd 2013 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Kenya: The president will have the power to appoint the chairperson of the Media Council of Kenya if the proposed Media Council Bill, 2013, currently in Parliament, becomes law. This is likely to undo the gains made in the media industry, which should be free from state control as stipulated in the constitution.

Article 34 of the constitution states that the state shall not exercise control over or interfere with any media establishment. It goes on to state that any regulatory body over the broadcasting and other electronic media shall be independent of control by government, political or commercial interests.

If the president is granted the authority to appoint the chair of the Media Council by Parliament, it therefore implies the council will be prone to political manipulation from the Executive arm of government thus being ineffective in executing its mandate.

Regulations

The bill is intended to regulate media establishments and journalists; it gives the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Information and Communication full authority over the Media Council. The bill will grant the cabinet secretary powers to disband the current council and select new members through a panel that reports directly to him or her and will have the final say on the new team on the council.

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If this bill sees the light of day, then the media will be under direct regulation of the government, which goes against the constitution. The media should be given a free hand to inform, educate and entertain the public guided by, most importantly, their conscience, media laws, policies and professional ethics.

{James Okong’o, Nairobi}


Media Council Bill 2013 Media freedom
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