We'll pay you soon, CS Owalo to media houses on advert debts

Information, Communications and the Digital Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo. [File, Standard]

The government has pledged to offset the debts it owes media houses following advert placements.

Media organisations in Kenya have been facing cash flow challenges due to billions of shillings owed to them by the State.

The financial difficulties have forced some media houses to retrench staff and engage in massive budget cuts.

Through a speech read by the Acting Director of the Government Advertising Agency Gwaro Ogaro, Cabinet Secretary in charge of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Eliud Owalo said the government was committed to offset the pending bills.

Owalo's speech was read during the 5th Annual Editors' Guild Convention in Diani, Kwale County on Friday, December 2.

"Over successive financial years, the focus has been on clearing pending bills, with the unpaid current consumption graduating into pending bills at the end of each financial year. This arises from the inadequate budgetary provisions for advertising. However, we are seriously looking into this and we will rest it very soon," said Owalo.

The minister's remarks come at a time when media houses are struggling to stay financially afloat due the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and a change in consumption habits among audiences.

Owalo challenged media organisations to be innovative during the tough economic times, assuring journalists that the government won't meddle in their affairs.

"There is need for training to equip journalists with digital skills, including training on the use of information sourced from social media. Media houses need to provide journalists with sufficient ICT equipment for work in both newsrooms and in the field so as to ensure information currency and proper audience interactivity," said Owalo.