State order on adverts undermines consumer choice

The government's TV and radio advertisements will now be aired exclusively on KBC. [David Njaaga, Standard]

In a move that raises questions about consumer rights and the fairness of media representation, the government recently directed that all its television and radio advertisements be aired exclusively on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

This undermines the very essence of consumer choice.

The directive will not only stifle competition but also perpetuate a monopolistic approach that is detrimental to both consumers and the media landscape at large.

One of the fundamental principles of a democratic society is the freedom of choice, particularly in media consumption.

Consumers have the right to choose the content they engage with, including the advertisements they see or hear. Airing all government agencies’ adverts solely on KBC will restrict consumers' freedom to access diverse content across different media platforms.

Moreover, the government's insistence on using KBC exclusively for advertising purposes sends a contradictory message about its role in fostering a vibrant and competitive media industry.

If the government truly values a free and fair media landscape, it should refrain from favouring one platform over others and instead support the growth and sustainability of all media outlets, both public and private.

This directive not only threatens the viability of private media houses but also sets a dangerous precedent of government interference in media operations. By effectively monopolising advertising revenue, KBC may become financially sustainable in the short-term, but at the cost of stifling innovation and creativity in the industry as a whole.

Unfair advantage

Furthermore, the double-standards evident in this directive are concerning. While the government insists on funneling advertising revenue exclusively to KBC, government officials continue to seek publicity from private media houses due to their wider viewership and reach.

This creates an unfair advantage for KBC while undermining the competitiveness of private media outlets.

Instead of relying on government directives to prop up KBC, the corporation should focus on innovation and adaptability to attract a larger audience and advertising revenue.

By offering compelling content and leveraging modern technologies, KBC can compete effectively in today's dynamic media landscape without resorting to monopolistic practices.

Ultimately, consumers deserve the freedom to choose their preferred media outlets based on individual preferences and tastes. Imposing restrictions on advertising only serves to limit consumer choice and hinder the diversity of voices in the media.

If the government truly wishes to support KBC's revival and profitability, it should explore alternative strategies that promote healthy competition and innovation within the media industry.

This directive however well-intentioned, is not the solution and undermines the principles of fairness, choice, and diversity in media consumption.

-Mr Kubai is a public relations and communications practitioner based in Nairobi. [email protected]