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Broadcasters barred from airing free content for political parties

By Graham Kajilwa | April 19th 2016

No media house will transmit broadcasts sponsored by a political party during the election period unless the same are qualified as paid advertisements.

This is according to new regulations proposed by the Government to regulate media broadcasting.

The Kenya Information and Communication (Broadcasting) Regulations unveiled Monday bar anyone holding a broadcasting licence from publicising material sponsored by any political party or figure.

The regulations stipulate that such broadcasts may only be aired as advertisements, with the disclaimer given both at the beginning and the end of the content.

The regulations were unveiled Monday by Information Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru and Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Francis Wangusi.

They further provide for equitable coverage and opportunities for all registered political parties participating in an election and in particular for presidential candidates, giving the CA powers to ensure enforcement.

An employee of a licensee (media) who wishes to be a candidate in an elective position will be required to resign from employment during the election period.

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And for the first time, the Government has moved to reclaim inactive frequencies that were awarded to applicants, but which have not been used for broadcast. The regulations require that any frequency assigned must be activated within 12 months, failure to which it will be revoked by the CA.

Bigger say

Meanwhile, Kenyans will have a bigger say on those who are granted broadcasting frequencies as the regulations contain a clause that mandates the CA to publish in a daily newspaper individuals who it intends to offer frequencies, for their feedback on the applicants’ suitability.

Before awarding the frequencies, the CA will now be required to make public all information relating to the availability of such frequencies.

To boost local content, the authority has proposed that production companies be at least 20 per cent owned by Kenyans, and that at least 50 per cent of the actors and crew be locals. Animations should also be designed, supervised, written and directed by Kenyans.

Local content excludes news and advertisements.

Henceforth, the authority will require an applicant to have the necessary infrastructure before acquiring a new licence.

The CA shall, in consultation with the Cabinet secretary in charge of information, license foreign broadcasters, subject to availability of frequencies or channels.

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